From retiree to publisher — Since its start 15 years ago, the newsletter known as the Whipple report, Whipple wire and Whipple clips (or VaNews, as it’s now called) has been aggregating a wealth of Virginia political news each day. WaPo’s Patricia Sullivan reports on how retired CIA analyst Tom Whipple grew the subscriber base of the daily newsletter from only his neighbor, William Dolan III, who was running for Virginia Attorney General in 1996, to about 2,100, including the entire General Assembly and every newspaper editor in the state. In 1996, the year he said “everybody went online,” Whipple discovered that the websites of daily newspapers around the state had much more coverage of state politics than the printed newspaper he subscribed to. So he began copying and pasting stories from the websites to Microsoft Word and printing out a compilation of the day’s state politics news. He took the copy down the street and stuck it in the bag that Dolan’s WaPo was delivered in. Word of Whipple’s newsletter spread, and he began to send it via email to anyone who asked. The newsletter became an indispensable read for opinion leaders and policy-makers in the state. In 2011, he decided it was time to hand over the reigns, and after shopping around, he turned the operation over to the Virginia Public Access Project, which gave the newsletter its new name and grew the subscriber base to 4,200. Whipple now scans the internet for stories on oil and cold fusion, and you can subscribe to his daily and weekly newsletters on “peak oil” by sending him your email address.
Google shuts down Google Reader — Google Reader, the wildly popular RSS reader that many have used for years to compile the day’s news, is shutting down today. Olivia Goldhill of The Telegraph reports that the company announced the termination of Reader in March, saying they wanted to narrow their focus on a smaller range of products. Google said RSS subscriptions were declining, but many loyal users tried to change the company’s mind. A petition asking the company to continue the aggregation service received more than 100,000 in a few days, but Google wasn’t persuaded. Many other RSS readers have gained users since Google’s March announcement. Several of these, including Digg Reader, built specifically as an alternative to Google Reader, allow users to import their Google feeds when making accounts. Andrew McLaughlin, Digg’s president, wrote that the company hopes “ to identify and rebuild the best of Google Reader’s features (including its API), but also advance them to fit the Internet of 2013.”