OJR on Reporters & E-mail: Where’s the RSS?

These days, most journalists both depend on and are utterly frustrated with e-mail. We need it for leads, and for communication with sources and editors, and we are generally overwhelmed by it.

An Oct. 24, 2003 article in Online Journalism Review, by Mark Glaser. “The E-Mail Paradox: Bane and Boon for Journalists’ Productivity,” covers how reporters today are using and misusing e-mail and other types of online communications.

This article is generally pretty good, except for one conspicuous omission: RSS feeds are not mentioned. I’m pretty surprised about that, since RSS feeds are a simple and far more organized way for reporters to follow their beats, keep abreast of the competition, and pick up news tips and story ideas. In other words, journalists who are drowning in e-mail alerts should get themselves a feed reader and start subscribing to RSS feeds instead of e-mail alerts. Also, journalists should be bugging more sources to publish RSS feeds – Really, that’s so simple and cheap/free, there’s no excuse why any organization that wants media coverage is not publishing an RSS feed!

(If you don’t know what an RSS feed is, see my backgrounder: “What Is RSS, and Why Should You Care?“)

OJR, I’d love to see a follow-up on how journalists can use RSS… But I’ll probably just go ahead and write that one up myself!

2 thoughts on OJR on Reporters & E-mail: Where’s the RSS?

Comments are closed.

  1. Thanks for stopping by to comment, Mark.

    You wrote:
    >Indeed OJR has covered RSS feeds a couple times before. I’m sure some journalists use them, but this story was focused on how journalists use email in two-way communication with others, more than anything.I doubt journalists would rely on RSS to hear from sources or get PR pitches, or to run interviews.From what I know, RSS is still in an early adopter phase, and most journalists probably don’t even know what it is.<

    True, so far. But I recently spoke about RSS feeds at the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists (http://www.sej.org), and many of my colleagues there were intrigued by the possibilities and now are learning to use RSS feeds.

    The problem there is not that the journalists aren’t interested, but rather that so far not enough sources are publishing RSS feeds that would be useful to journalists. And that can change quickly once journalists start asking (or insisting) that sources publish useful news and info by RSS.

    All in my humble opinion, of course! Your mileage may vary.

    – Amy Gahran
    Editor, CONTENTIOUS

  2. Amy,
    Indeed OJR has covered RSS feeds a couple times before. I’m sure some journalists use them, but this story was focused on how journalists use email in two-way communication with others, more than anything. I doubt journalists would rely on RSS to hear from sources or get PR pitches, or to run interviews.
    From what I know, RSS is still in an early adopter phase, and most journalists probably don’t even know what it is. However, anything that will help alleviate email overload would be welcome.
    My 2 cents.
    Mark