16 Nov 2005

Bunch of RSS

Good news: the New Zealand Herald finally supports RSS!
Bad news: it's totally unusable!

Look! Right down on the bottom of the NZ Herald website, there's the little RSS icon. You may remember it from such websites as BBC News, The Guardian, The New York Times, or pretty much every other news site and blog on the planet, including d1sc0r0b0t.

I know what you're thinking. This means I can grab a few RSS feeds and throw them into my favorite aggregator (the one built in to Thunderbird isn't too bad), next to where the BBC, Guardian, NYT feeds are. Maybe one for local news, one for international, one for sport...

Hold it right there.

See, you can't get a feed for just "local news". First you have to pick a category. I don't know how many there are, but they include 'Ageing', 'American Football', 'Croquet', 'Indigenous People' and 'Youth'. In addition to the category options, you can also pick topics. No, I don't know what the difference between a category and topic is either. Topics include 'Aquaculture', 'Beauty', 'Buddhism', 'Koreans in NZ', 'Wool' and 'Xbox' (There's probably a topic for 'Playstation' as well, but I'm not talking to Sony at the moment).

So OK, I can't get exactly the feeds I want, but I want to see what young adults* are up to these days, so if I select 'Youth', I'll get a feed full of hip happenings for the rad kids of today, right?

Not so much.

Because the Herald RSS feeds don't include the actual text of the article. Just a summary and a link back to the website. Which is exactly what RSS was designed to avoid.

I don't see what the problem is here. Why can't the Herald set up their RSS the same as every other paper? Having this insane level of detail is nice, but most people want local news, international news, sport... the different sections of the paper. Is it because they want to make sure the advertisements can be read on the website? Because you can put ads in RSS feeds too. Plenty of papers are doing that and it's not a big deal.

Oh well. Here's the link to Newstalk ZB who not only offer RSS feeds but have a latest news podcast as well. You know media is getting interesting when Newstalk has a podcast.

* Younglings: people of a certain age who were exposed to The Young Ones in their formative years, are completely incapable of letting a reference to youth go by without saying "young adults" in their best Ben Elton voice andmaking the "ironic" hand sign.

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