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Do you need a feed reader?

And it just keeps coming... the GMT staff had a great time at the annual SEJ conference in Burlington, VT. We got to hang out with some members that we've only ever talked to on the phone. We met some great folks. We got taste Vermont cheese and delish maple syrup. Oh yeah, and we did some work.

On Friday night, we attended beat dinners on current hot topics. Each dinner was attended by about 15 folks and was hosted by a reporter or two. I attended "Reporting Outside the Traditional Newsroom," hosted by Amy Gahran, media consultant, and Rob Davis, reporter from Voice of San Diego.

Topics (& margaritas) were flowing, but one particular conversation focus was on the use of feed readers not only to stay on top of the issues you're interested in but as a way to filter out the information overflow. Those of us that are non-media should take note: reporters are using feed readers as a way to not only read other bylines but to keep tabs on issues and possible resources.

What's a feed reader? Wikipedia says it's a news aggregator that uses a web feed to retrieve syndicated web content such as weblogs, podcasts, vlogs, and mainstream mass media websites, or in the case of a search aggregator, a customized set of search results. These kinds of aggregators are user-controlled and are known for saving time since you no longer need to regularly check websites for updates. It sounds like there are many possible free feed readers out there -- Bloglines, Feedzilla, Google News, and FeedReader. (Note that this is not meant to be a comprehensive list, it just includes a few of the feeders discussed during the dinner.)

The benefits of a feeder include that you get to subscribe to the feeds that you're interested in -- content is customized by the topics you select. One downside could be that even though you're being fed the news you're requesting, you might miss out on other stories and topics that you'd normally see when visiting an outside site.

But, like Amy said, using a feed reader may not be the right fit for you. It's all about matching personal preference with your goals. Amy ran the unofficial (volunteer) SEJ 2006 Blog and you should also check out Amy's personal blog, Contentious.

--Bobbi Russell
10-31-06 (boo!)

October 31, 2006 in Media Training, Technology | Permalink


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