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The Beginner's Guide to RSS

Do you want to keep tabs on your favorite blogs or websites but don’t have time to go clicking around the internet to keep up with new content? It’s probably time for you to try RSS.

RSS, short for “Really Simple Syndication,” is a valuable tool for web users, but especially for journalists who use RSS feeds to streamline their online reading and newsgathering process. RSS makes it easy to keep track of many different blogs at once and to be notified of breaking news in your beat.

What is RSS and how does it work?

Most online news sites and blogs have one or several RSS “feeds” that you can subscribe to and be notified of new posts and articles. Reading these RSS feeds requires an RSS reader. There are many different kinds of RSS readers, but the easiest and most intuitive is Google Reader. If you don’t have a Google account, just complete the short registration process by clicking the “Create an account” button. From there you can start adding your favorite news feeds.

Sounds great. How do I do it?

Visit any site or blog that you want to subscribe to and look for an orange RSS icon or use Cmd-F (Mac) or Ctrl-F (PC) to find the word “RSS” on the page. Click on the link and you should be taken to a page that gives you the option of adding the feed to Google. Select this option.

If you can’t find the RSS feed or just want to add your feeds within Google Reader itself, click the “Add a subscription” button located in the top left area of Google Reader and enter the URL/web address of the site you want to add. If the site has an RSS feed, Google Reader will automatically add it to your list.

What if I don’t know which blogs I should add?

If you aren’t sure which blogs you should be following, you can also enter keywords such as “education” or “health” in the same box. Google will recommend blog feeds based on your search terms. After you begin adding blogs, Google Reader will recommend similar blogs that you should be reading. These blogs are found in the “Recommended sources” menu in the left sidebar.

I’ve added feeds to my RSS reader. What now?

RSS works a lot like email. You will get notifications of new posts and articles in what looks like an inbox. Take a look at the Google Reader layout. On the left, you’ll see a list of the blogs and sites you’ve subscribed to. The number next to it indicates the number of “unread” items. The space on the right is the actual blog post or article.

But wait, I only see a headline or a paragraph.

Some sites make excerpts or headlines available in their RSS feeds to encourage you to read the story on their site. To read the rest of an abbreviated article, click on the headline. A new tab or window should pop up with the full article.

Wait, I’m still totally lost.

Click here for a detailed explanation of RSS or check out this video guide to RSS in plain English.

Also on 10,000 Words:

The 20 Essential RSS Feeds for Multimedia Journalists
Beyond Twitterfeed: Innovative uses of Twitter in the newsroom
What is…? A handy guide for the new media novice

Quickly translate whole blogs, tweets, RSS feeds

Not too long ago, five ways to learn a new language and five blogs in languages other than English were presented in the hope that blog lovers would expand their online reading. If you haven’t yet begun learning a new language, there are a few ways to make reading blogs in foreign languages much easier.

Mloovi will translate any RSS feed into any of more than 30 available languages including Croatian, Filipino and Swedish. The results, like Google Translate or Yahoo! Babel Fish, a little spotty and shouldn’t be quoted, but it is a definite help.

On the other hand, if you want readers of your blog to be able to read it in another language, ConveyThis offers a button that will translate your content with one click. The site requires registration, which only take a couple seconds, and a button like the one below are available instantly.

On a smaller scale, Twanslate will translate tweets (or anything under 140 characters) into Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian and Russian. Simply follow @twanslate and follow the instructions to send a direct message and received the translated reply in seconds.

The 20 Essential RSS Feeds for Multimedia Journalists


Recent Posts:

Digital Photography School

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Editor & Publisher

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E-Media Tidbits

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Google Maps Mania

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“An aggregation of journalists who blog (mostly) about journalism.”


“All the Journerdism news links and commentary you can handle in your RSS reader.”


Recent Posts:

Recent Posts:

Media Shift

Recent Posts:

Mindy McAdams/Teaching Online Journalism

Recent Posts:


Recent Posts:

Online Journalism Blog

Recent Posts:

Online Journalism Review

Recent Posts:


Recent Posts:


Recent Posts:

Recent Posts:


Recent Posts:

Smashing Magazine

Recent Posts:

Was your favorite feed left out? Share your essential RSS feeds in the comments. And of course, be sure to subscribe to the 10,000 Words RSS feed.

3 Ways to save the 10,000-word story

Let’s face it. No one — save for shut-ins and the Pulitzer Prize committee — wants to read a story that spreads over several pages of a newspaper. Pictures and graphics are not gonna help and putting on the net only exacerbates the problem. So what is a long-winded journalist to do? Here are some ways to make the long story more palatable:

Break it up

Newspapers ought to take a cue from DailyLit, a forward-thinking site that makes classic literature like Dickens and Dumas, as well as newly released books, available for online reading through installments. Users can select a book they want to read and receive daily chunks of it either through email or RSS.

RSS itself is a great way to encourage readers to follow a long with a particular story. Instead of making an excessively long story available online in one piece, deliver different sections of the story through RSS over the course of a few days to ensure the reader digests more of the story.

The same idea could be applied to Twitter: instead of sending a portion of the story through RSS, simply send a link to Twitter followers/readers.

Let the story stand alone

GOOD Magazine, which, along with the Las Vegas Sun, is at the forefront of new media innovation, makes a free 6×6 inch, mini-newspaper available in select Starbucks locations that concentrates on a single story. This week’s story is on carbon emissions and is made up of a large and detailed graph of how greenhouse gases affect the world. The first fold-out page is a full-sized ad that the reader sees before reading the story (ad revenue!). Not only is this a genius way of putting a story in front of readers who will likely have a few minutes to spare, it is also a great way to promote brand identity.

More pics: Front cover, Inside ad, Full-page story

Go mobile

Now that more Kindles are finding their way into consumers’ hands and the iPhone and BlackBerry have made reading on a cell phone less of a chore, it’s time to adapt long investigative pieces or feature stories for reading on mobile devices. If people are willing to read books on a Kindle, they are likely willing to read the newspaper. And now that news sites are being optimized for the web, it’s time to optimize the stories themselves.

Whichever way the story is presented, it must reflect the growing segment of the population who don’t have time to read long pages of text. After all, what good is a story if no one reads it?

10 Essential iPhone apps for bloggers and reporters

The recent launch of Apple’s App Store means millions of iPhone users will have hundreds of handy applications available at their fingertips. Many of these apps make it easier bloggers and reporters to work on the go. For those that don’t have an iPhone, perhaps it’s time to considering purchasing one.

1. SpeakEasy Voice Recorder

Average Rating: 3 Stars Price: $4.99

From the developer: Record and playback notes, reminders, or just about anything from your iPhone’s built-in microphone. SpeakEasy gives you a recording studio that fits into your pocket. Intuitive and fun, SpeakEasy is the premier voice recorder for your iPhone.

  • Record voice memos, reminders, lectures, meetings, or anything you wish.
  • Add a title, comments, or even a photo from your photo library or camera while recording.
  • Group and organize your recordings by category.
  • Interruption protection lets you pick up and continue your recording after a phone call interruption.
  • Pause and continue recording with a single touch.
  • Playback and quickly scan your recordings with the touch slider.

2. Writing Pad

Average Rating: 4 Stars Price: Free

From the developer: Store notes and send email using ShapeWriter on your iPhone. ShapeWriter is a revolutionary text input technology that enables you to enter text into the iPhone by tracing word shapes rather than typing letters. Each shape traced on the soft keyboard with your finger is recognized as a word. Error correction is fast and easy. For rare names and acronyms, type only once and you will be able to shape write the next time. Shape writing is many times more efficient than letter-based handwriting recognition.

3. WordPress

Average Rating: 3½ Stars Price: Free

From the developer: Robust but simple to use, the WordPress for iPhone Open Source application allows you to create and edit content on your WordPress blog(s) with support for offline use. The app includes the following features:

  • Support for blogs and self-installed WordPress blogs (version 2.5.1 and higher)
  • Embedded Safari for true previews of posts
  • Full support for tags and categories
  • Photo support for both camera pics and library photos
  • Support for multiple blogs
  • Ability to password protect a post, save as draft, or mark for later review
  • Auto-recovery feature recovers posts interrupted by phone calls

4. TypePad

Average Rating: 3½ Stars Price: $4.99

From the developer: Update your blog and share pictures with the world from wherever you are with TypePad. Built to connect with the award-winning TypePad blogging service, TypePad for iPhone and iPod touch enables you to…

  • Write new posts for your blog in just a few seconds.
  • Post photos to your blog from your iPhone’s camera or photo albums.
  • Alert your friends when you post to your blog by automatically updating Twitter.

With TypePad on your iPhone or iPod touch, you can share your ideas and photos as they happen, from wherever you are. And since it integrates with TypePad on your desktop, you get all the great features of the world’s premier blogging service.

5. Twitterific

Average Rating: 3½ Stars Price: Free

From the developer: A fun application that lets you read and publish posts (called “tweets”) on the Twitter social network. Stay connected with friends, family, and co-workers through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

6. Kyte Producer

Average Rating: 3½ Stars Price: Free

From the developer: Use your iPhone to instantly share photos and slideshows with your friends on Myspace, Facebook, or any website, blog or mobile phone.
Instantly broadcast pictures as you take them, or create slideshows from your iPhone’s picture gallery. You can even chat with your audience in real-time!

7. EverNote

Average Rating: 3½ Stars Price: Free

From the developer: Evernote helps you remember everything from your real and digital life using whatever device or platform you find most convenient.

Evernote for iPhone is part of the Evernote service. With it, you can take notes, snap photos, create to-do lists. and record audio. Everything is seamlessly synchronized with the web, and made available across all the devices and platforms you use, including iPhone, Evernote for Mac, Evernote Web, and Evernote for Windows.
Snap photos of any thing from whiteboards to business cards to wine labels, and Evemote will make the text within those images searchable.

Need something from last week or last year? Evernote instantly connects to the Evernote web service so you can get what you need. Find what you’re looking for by searching or filtering by tag, date, location. and more.

8. NetNewsWire

Average Rating: 3 Stars Price: Free

From the developer: NetNewsWire is an RSS reader for iPhone — you can read news from the millions of weblogs and sites that publish RSS feeds.
Because NetNewsWire syncs with all of NewsGator’s free RSS readers, if you read an item on your iPhone, you don’t have to read it again on your Macintosh or other computer. It’s automatically marked as read everywhere.
You can also save items for later via the Clippings feature, and any item you clip is available on your other computers. It’s an easy way to save something to read when you have more time.

9. Jott for iPhone

Average Rating: 3 Stars Price: Free

From the developer: Jott for iPhone is the ultimate mobile notepad that turns your voice into notes. Capture your to-dos as quickly as you can say” Get strawberries for dessert. “We transcribe your voice into text and place the resulting notes in your lists. When you complete items, just cross them off with a swipe of your finger.

All of your lists are backed up on, where you can manage them when you are at your computer. For existing Jott customers, your lists and notes will load after you’ve d
ownloaded the app (may take a minute if you have a lot).

10. Lonely Planet

Average Rating: 2½ Stars (Spanish) to 4½ Stars (Vietnamese) Price: $4.99

From the developer: Want to never be at a loss for words, no matter where you are in the world? With your iPhone, and a little help from Lonely Planet, you’ll have the local lingo licked.

Lonely Planet, the world’s leading travel company, now offers its 10 most popular phrasebooks in downloadable audio format, specially tailored to make the most of your iPhone. Don’t just skim the surface on your next trip; with 530 spoken (and phonetically written) phrases in each guide, you can shop, socialise and shout like a native.

And a few worth copying by other news organizations…

Fox News UReport

Average Rating: 3 Stars Price: Free

From the developer: FOX News wants you to report the news. The uReport Application for iPhone allows you to do just that. You can easily take or select pictures of news happening around you and send them directly to FOX News Channel from your iPhone. If we determine your submission is newsworthy, your photo could appear online or even on air! At Bat

Average Rating: 3 Stars Price: $4.99

From the developer: At Bat from, the official site of Major League Baseball, delivers real-time scores and in-game video highlights of every game directly to your iPhone.

You’ll get each highlight moments after the play happens so you never miss the important action. The application will automatically detect your network and play video encoded for either EDGE/3G or Wi-Fi bitrates. At Bat will provide this breakthrough service for the remainder of the 2008 season – including playoffs and World Series. It’s a whole new ballgame!

Now Local

Average Rating: 3 Stars Price: Free

From the developer: NowLocal is the best way to find news that’s happening around you. Using the iPhone’s location services, NowLocal automatically delivers you news from the best local sources, wherever you are. So as you move from place to place, it’s easy to quickly check what’s going on around you.

For more news iPhone news apps, click over to Mindy McAdams.