Newspapers Finally Getting Up to Speed

I wrote a post some time ago about the fact that newspapers were still in the dark-ages and that in order for them to survive. I still hold by that.

With generation X coming through and their greater reliability on electronic information and delivery via alternative devices. Newspapers have to do something in order to keep their audience. Otherwise it is curtains for them. After all why would I want news that is old in a newspaper when I can read it as it happens via RSS or a webpage? Not only that I can read the news on-line and start discussing it straight away! These are very real issues that confront newspapers and they ignore them at their peril.

Which is why it is good to see that one newspaper has realised this and is doing something about it. The New York Times has just released Times Reader. Read the newspaper electronically. As the original blog post points out the details are as yet sketchy as far as the service being free or will have premium content available at a price. As far as paying for it, I think it will be a reach to get people to pay for a service when the information can be sourced from elsewhere for free. Although if they can offer some killer functionality or some other service for a small fee it might work. So I would wager that you can expect in time for it to be full of advertising. How else does a publication make money?

Check out the original article for all the details and some great screen shots. I guess this is not of much use if you live somewhere like Australia, but it is a great example of a newspaper looking to the future and banking on it being a very different world in the very near future.


Correction to Newspapers Not Having RSS

I was talking to Sebastian today about the story that I posted yesterday. He does not entirely agree with me. But that aside it appears that I was wrong about the newspaper websites being totally devoid of RSS feeds.

So to put things straight, I will always admit when I am wrong. Newspaper websites do indeed have RSS feeds. However, I will say this; they do not make them easy to find among a few other issues I have that are along the same lines of what I said in the previous post.

So they are not easy to find. In addition to that, only the major national newspapers are featured as having an RSS feed and then news stories based on region. This does not in my opinion make an RSS feed for a Newspaper. It is the equivalent to a Google News Australia, major stories RSS feed for example. In addition to that they are often only the headlines and snippets and not the full story and it does not include the whole paper. That given the feeds are only released on publication time, so not until the paper is released to the public. So the news you get is old.

As far as being hard to find, nowhere on these sites do they advertise the fact that they have RSS feeds anywhere? No. I also had to go through 3 pages to find the RSS feeds. That seems a little backward to me.

So I stand by my previous comment that no single newspaper in Australia offers a dedicated RSS feed for that paper, for the contents of that paper either payed for or not.

Newspaper Websites Devoid of RSS Feeds

I noticed last week that the local paper here in Cairns, The Cairns Post is now on the Internet. I thought cool, I’ll head on over and check it out. I was not surprised to see that the site fails to provide any sort of RSS Feed.

I am not suprised because it is a newspaper site. I do not think these companies want you reading their content from elsewhere. Ultimately they want you to buy the paper! They also have employed other tricks such as giving you snippets of a story, headlines only, editorial comment eluding to other content. Of course to get this other content you have to get the actual paper.

It makes economic sense for newspapers to push their paper in hard-copy. But I think they are fighting something they don’t need to. If they do not embrace new technologies they are going to be abandoned. By their very nature they are behind, even television is to some extent, I get the news for tonight’s news as it happens – via RSS. Newspapers can be up to 12 hours behind and sometimes more. Newspapers need to get creative about how they are going to use new technologies while still maintaining their market share.

So why don’t newspapers evolve their content? What if I did not want to get the Cairns Post delivered but “purchased” an RSS feed? Make the feed cost less than the hard-copy would and offer things that you can’t get in the paper, like comments or something. I am sure that this could catch on. Especially if the price is cheaper. There is also the environmental considerations such as saving paper.
But until that happens I am not about to visit every newspapers website to see what they are up to. They are indexed by Google and I subscribe to Google News anyway and I can get the headlines from there via RSS. Or why not get a news alert for your local area? Sure I like the paper but I would sure love to get it electronically as well or instead of. Plus I hate the way they are rolled up when they are delivered, really hard to read and I can not be bothered flattening it out.