Stuart Brown from the excellent Modern Life asks ‘Why is RSS adoption so abysmal amongst UK newspapers online ?’ with some interesting analysis including the staggering fact (to me at least) that Modern Life has more Bloglines subscribers than The Daily Torygraph.
The detailed analysis in this article interested me. I (delude myself that I) am technically literate. I subscribe to around 100 varied feeds and am very lazy. I live in the UK and am interested in News, Sport and Technology.
I always buy a newspaper whenever I commute on a train and every Saturday (to avoid DIY). And yet, curiously, I do not subscribe to any RSS feeds from any UK newspapers (well apart from The Sun’s excellent ‘Unders The Covers With Page 3 Babes’ podcast).
So I just visited the Web sites of the main broadsheets (Times, Torygraph, Independent and Grauniad) to try to determine whether I am missing out.
The Times recently relaunched the TimesOnline site so it will be interesting to see what RSS support is on offer.
Not a good start - no familiar orange RSS icon in the Firefox address bar. No obvious subscription options is visible. Sure enough, the ‘Newsfeeds’ information is buried down at the bottom of the page as an afterthought.
The Times offers a narrow choice of News (UK and World), Business, Sport, Tech and the ever popular Law. There is no specific feed for ‘Football’ so I am obliged to take an interest in horse racing, darts and snooker. No thanks.
A promising start. Automatic subscription option available from Firefox to ‘Breaking News’ and almost every area of the site. There are specific feeds for individual sports and the Football feed is sensibly called ‘Telegraph Sport | Football’.
There is a useful help page describing the various subscription options which is useful for newcomers (including a NetVibes module). There is support for Blackberry and a mobile service for registered users (free subscription).
Like The Times, The Independent does not offer automatic RSS and hides subscription information at the bottom of the page. Range of subscription options but I completely turn off when asked to select the section(s) and then get presented with a feed URL to paste into my RSS reader !
Reluctantly, paste the URL into Google Reader. Again, The Independent offers partial feeds with a headline teaser to lure you to the main site.
As Modern Life reported, The Guardian is the longest established and arguably most successful (in terms of the number of online subscribers) of the UK ‘quality’ press. Automatic feeds are available from each section and the normal range of devices (phone/PDA) are supported with news alerts (free) and a digital edition (softcopy version of the print edition available for paid subscription).
Mini-newspapers are also available for free download in PDF format. I presume this is for transfer to a phone/PDA to read on the train. Howver, I think I would rather shell out for the print edition rather than waste 12 minutes and miss the 07:58 but this is a different format from the competition.
Interestingly, like the New York Times, The Guardian also offers its own newsreader, Newspoint, which seems to defeat the point of RSS but may be helpful for newcomers (or confused readers fed up with trying to subscribe to The Independent).