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Newspaper RSS (mis)feeds

I’m just saying, she has a point.

I notice, on a lot of feeds from newspapers, there seems to be no order or thought given to the stories that go out on the feed. (OK, so I only subscribe to a small handful of newspaper feeds, but still, it is annoying.)

I was going to point to my newspaper’s feed, which I’ve noticed this on in the past, but I looked at today’s and it seems a decent mix (mostly my stories, which I guess is what happens when you’re the only reporter on for the day). Though, it does strike me as weird that the story which appears banner on front in the paper is the ninth story listed on the top stories/breaking news feed? (It’s oddly enough the 10th story on the more general “news” feed.) The centerpiece package on front is the lead on both feeds, so I guess that makes sense. But other than that, it’s kind of hit or miss. It’s all local stories, but they’re from all different areas of the paper with no semblance of order.

To get semi-off topic: That lack of order was one of the things Carl brought up in our news design class when we were discussing newspaper Web sites/”The Future” (dun dun dun). There is almost universally no importance hierarchy for daily updates. Your school closing is listed right after your five car pile up is listed right before your gas prices. Most sites time stamp the updates as if to say, this is how often we’re getting you the news, check back often. It makes sense, if you do it enough.

Also, that time stamp, unless there is a really big breaking story, which the editors will move into the top news spot on the page bumping the standing daily content down, is the only order given to such updates.

Gone are the days of editors sorting out the newsworthiness and signaling it by placement on the front page. On the web, it’s often a free for all where timeliness is everything and actual newsworthiness measured by other means is secondary to just getting it posted in a spot where people who stop in multiple times each day can easily find what’s new.

I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. It is what it is. I’m just saying that it can be confusing, and sometimes the most important updates can get buried beneath the umpteen other updates each day.

But to go back to my original point: I have a much easier time understanding why there is no ranking of importance to those midday updates, which are often sporadic and unexpected, than the RSS feed, which should be able to be manipulated ahead of time.

One Response to “Newspaper RSS (mis)feeds”

  1. RSS feeds from online newspapers » SOJo: Student of Online Journalism Says:

    […] Meranda Watling says her paper’s got a good mix of stories, but There is almost universally no importance hierarchy for daily updates. […]