Thursday, May 31, 2007

News Monitoring, Part One: RSS

Getting news in time, being updated is very important to run business properly. News monitoring is definitely a part of our everyday work. In some situations the price of a missing news article would be too high, thus we try to keep an eye on relevant subjects and not to miss anything important. Is it possible to track all news from thousands websites? Yes. Today we have some very simple and powerful tools that allow us to track news fast and effective.

RSS

Wikipedia said,

RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines or podcasts. An RSS document, which is called a “feed,” “web feed,” or “channel,” contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that’s easier than checking them manually.

In other words, RSS gives you a possibility to collect websites you visit regularly to your customized “newspaper”. You can read new entries from your favorite sites within one program or at one web application instead of visiting every single website separately. Alexandra Samuel wrote a perfect guide — 10 simple, painless steps to becoming an RSS user. I don’t want to retell her article here, just would strongly recommend reading it.

This is how I use RSS for news tracking:

  1. First of all, I added about 30 feeds of the the most noteworthy news sites to my RSS reader (special program or web service for aggregating RSS feeds).
  2. I turned on “Check all feed once an hour” option in program settings, because some feeds may contain not all new entries, but last 10, so I asked RSS reader to check for updates every 60 minutes.
  3. I set my RSS reader to start automatically on system start up — it keeps running in the system tray displaying a number of new entries as they arrive.
  4. Three or two times a day I open the RSS reader and look through the news; some feed entries contain a title, short excerpt and a link to the full article on the web. If a news seems important, I opened it in my browser.

I spend about 30 minutes a day reading hundreds news from dozens of websites. Just imagine, every 60 minutes my RSS reader checks each of 30 websites for updates. I’d have no time for any other work if I did it manually, but it takes me only 30 minutes a day!

RSS feeds are just one of the tools I use for news tracking. Next time I’ll write how to track news from websites that do not provide with RSS feeds.