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Happy RSS Awareness Day!

Today is RSS Awareness Day. Are you aware of RSS? Were you aware that RSS Awareness Day existed? And I’m totally not asking because I think you should subscribe to the 10,000 Words RSS feed. While RSS is popular in many tech circles, your average internet users hasn’t quite caught on.


In the spirit of the day, here are some of the possibilities of RSS:


1. Get sports scores

2. Check the weather

3. Create a custom newspaper

4. Get constant updates on the latest in multimedia and technology news and commentary

Sports fans are the new citizen journalists

Sports journalism has an intrinsic fan base, so it only makes sense to parlay that readership into online sports communities.

Takkle, an offshoot of Sports Illustrated, is hooking them while they’re young. The site has an active network of high school athletes and fans who can submit photos and video of their favorite teams or participate in throwdowns on just about any topic.

Impressively, the site ranks the top 25 basketball players and top 100 football players from high schools across the country. Takkle users can rate each player as over or underrated, view stats and debate the player’s cred in the comments section.

Elsewhere on the site, SI.com’s College Football’s Greatest Rivalries video series is well-packaged and is sure to get football fans talking. All the greats are there including University of Florida v Florida State, USC v UCLA and Army v Navy. The opportunity to debate the prowess of one’s home team exists elsewhere on the site at FanNation, but it would have been nice to have a comment section or direct link to each rivalry’s discussion board to make the debate more immediate.

Bleacher Report is perhaps the best citizen journalism sports site not tied to a mainstream media outlet. In the vein of Associated Content, users can register and write their own sports-related articles, which, when posted, can be reviewed and rated by other users. Writers are free to speak their minds and throw unbiasedness out the window (especially today’s front page story “ESPN: The Ultimate Hypocrite”. Totally valid argument, but wow what a headline.) Bleacher Report covers most of the major sports, including football, basketball and soccer and its thriving community is making it one of the best on the web.

And because no post is complete without a good map, soccermap.net takes soccer league tables and plots them on a user-friendly map. The site is Europe-centric, but is very comprehensive and is RSS-enabled for news on any specific league. The site’s stats can even be embedded as a widget on any webpage.

Read more about tackling the online sports section in this previous post.

Twitter for journalists: What you need to know

Twitter is changing the way news is delivered and read. For the uninitiated, Twitter is an online application that lets users send short messages of 140 characters or less called “tweets” through instant message, cell phone or its website. Many journalists are already using it as a microblogging platform or, alternatively, as a way to keep friends and colleagues updated on their daily lives.

ReadWriteWeb has encapsulated the reasons why Twitter and journalism go hand in hand:

Unlike TV or newspaper, Twitter allows for a conversation. Like its new media brethren, blogs, Twitter encourages discourse and feedback. For reporters that aren’t afraid to get down and dirty, Twitter is a golden opportunity to build a rapport with readers and gauge public opinion. It also makes readers feel more connected to the news when they can participate in a discussion about it as it happens, often times with the people reporting it first hand.

Twitter is built for the new news cycle. “Traditional news operated on a 24-hour cycle. Blogs shortened this to minutes and hours. Twitter shortens it further to seconds,” [Patrick Ruffini of TechPresident] writes. “It’s not right for every piece of information. It’s certainly not well suited for longer analysis. But when it comes to instantly assembling raw data from several sources that then go into fully baked news stories, nothing beats it.”

CNN’s Rick Sanchez (@ricksanchezcnn) is a great example of how a mainstream news organization is using Twitter to deliver news. In addition to providing links to CNN’s news content, Rick also engages in conversation with many of his thousands of online followers.

Other traditional news media making use of Twitter are BBC News, CBC News (Canada), Le Monde – World, the New York Times, CNN Breaking News, The Oregonian, Orlando Sentinel, ESPN, and a host of others indexed here. It’s about time your news organization was added to the list, right?

Creating links to news stories on Twitter and redirecting them to your site is a great way to generate additional traffic or to notify Twitter users of breaking news. The site is also useful for liveblogging or tracking reaction to local stories.

Twitter is used more often for personal discourse, but journalists should approach twittering of their personal lives with caution. Tech blogger extraordinaire Tiffany B. Brown explains why she tweets and why having the public following your public life may not be such a good idea. Nevertheless, Twitter has quickly become the essential tool in every newsroom’s and journalist’s arsenal.


Also on 10,000 Words

The top 7 mistakes new Twitter users make
Twitter is…
How to analyze your Twitter followers and friends
10 Journalists you should follow on Twitter

Weather 2.0: Interactive online tools for keeping tabs on Mother Nature

Poor weather. The size of the weather page is shrinking in newspapers across the country and the meteorological report is almost always at the end of the television newscast. Many radio stations still read the weather at the top of the hour, but that’s been happening since Marconi pushed the on button. However, there are a group of online sites that are bringing a new twist to an old phenomenon.

Old standby The Weather Channel/weather.com is also a vibrant social network. Users can post photos and video of good and bad weather happening around them and discuss local climates on the site’s message boards. In addition to its hour by hour, weekend, 10-day and monthly forecasts, Weather.com boasts interactive maps, a bookmark-worthy blog written by weather experts and meteorologists and other weather-related tidbits that are too numerous to mention.

By now you’re familiar with the broadcast TV weather map that has the temperature of an area overlaid on a map of that area (i.e. 75° in Miami, 32° in Seattle). Weather Bonk has scaled that map down and made it available with just a click. Regional temperatures across the globe are plotted on an interactive Google Map, along with storm warnings and embedded webcams.

WunderCam and EarthCam also take advantage of webcams stationed around the country to display local weather condition. While the sites’ individual coverage doesn’t exactly blanket the United States, there are many webcams to choose from.

Do you love a good sunset? Wish the natural splendor of the sun setting on the horizon would last forever? Well, Eternal Sunset took this idea and ran with it. The site is collection of 266 webcams around the world, all facing west to capture the sun set in 48 different countries. Eternal Sunset also has two maps that assist in determining where the sun is setting at any given moment.


Sunset at 9 am PST, 6 pm Central European Time. From left, Carro, France, Santa Ponsa, Spain, Riederalp, Switzerland


Eternal Sunset Realtime Global Map

Several sites, including WeatherBug, RSS Weather and the aforementioned Weather Channel, are taking advantage of RSS technology to make up-to-the-minute weather alerts available through RSS feeds. Distributing something as useful as weather predictions through RSS is a great way to encourage users to subscribe to your content and is also a great branding tool.

How to tackle the online sports section

Many of web editors cite the sports section as the hands down most popular section of their news site. Because of the power of the internet, sports can be a lot more than box scores and comments sections.


The Dallas Morning News’ Cowboys Blog is a shining example of everything a blog should be. Its in depth coverage is complemented by stellar photographs, RSS feeds, and up to the minute scores. A handy calendar in the rail makes the blog searchable by date and visitors can receive Cowboys updates on their mobile device.

RUWT? (Are you watching this?) cuts through the 50 million sports channels and alerts you know when your game is getting good. Games are ranked Guarded, Elevated, High and Severe, which indicates a soon to be classic sports moment.

Totally Scored keeps track of the entire football/baseball/hockey/soccer/basketball game through RSS feeds. Users can select a feed dedicated to a sport or to a particular team. There a hundreds of teams to choose from which would satisfy any sports fan.

CollegeFanz puts sports into an interactive environment, which includes a virtual stadium and a customizable “dorm room.” The site looks great and has some great features but those features aren’t integrated into the site very well. Read a full review at Mashable.

NASCAR fans will get a real kick out of the Formula One Grand Prix Circuit map that shows satellite images of racetracks around the world.

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