Get my favorite news headline podcasts via MediaFly

My Mediafly profile currently contains these news headline podcasts.

Yesterday I offered some tips about making news podcasts smart. Today, Contentious reader Carson commented, “You should create a public profile on to allow people easy access to those feeds. Or, take their public RSS aggregated feed and put it on your blog, then people just need to sign up for one feed instead of all of them.”

Great idea, Carson! Thanks!

I hadn’t known about MediaFly, so I just checked it out. It is indeed a really useful tool for sharing podcasts. (Yet another example of my community collectively being much smarter and better connected than I am — perhaps my main motivation for blogging.)

So I just created a public profile on MediaFly and moved all my news headline podcast subscriptions over there. It seems to work well with my iTunes.

Anyway, here’s the feed for my collection of favorite news headline podcasts, if you want to check them out: feed://

That’s probably the easiest way to get them all at once. Keep in mind that I try out new podcasts periodically, so the shows in that feed will vary somewhat over time.

Whadya think? Does this work for you?

CarePages: No feeds? You’re kidding, right?

Feed me, CarePages, feed me! You can do it!

Last week I learned that a friend’s serious illness has flared up, and she’ll need surgery and a few weeks’ recuperation. I’m very bummed about this, but I thought it was neat that she’d set up a page at

I’d never heard of this service, but it seems like a great idea — people who are ill can set up their own private “page” that’s a combination forum and blog where they can post updates, keep in touch with friends, receive emotional support, etc. Man, I wish I’d known about this when my brother was getting leukemia treatments a couple of years ago. (Yes, he’s still in remission!)

I signed up for the CarePages and left a note for my friend. Of course, I’m going to want to keep up with other posts to her page. Normally I follow these sorts of things through my feed reader — so I searched for the feed option for her page. No luck. Although CarePages offers e-mail alerts, they don’t do feeds.

…And apparently, they have no specific plans at this point to add them. I asked their support whether they plan to add feeds, and here’s how they answered me today…

Continue reading

Feed overload? Ditch the guilt, embrace serendipity

Here’s what my feed reader looks like right now.

I’ve lost track of how many RSS feeds I subscribe to in my feed reader — somewhere between 100 and 200, I’m guessing. But that doesn’t matter, because despite the volume it’s surprisingly manageable and rewarding. The secret, I’ve found, is to let go of any sense of obligation to keep up with all that content.

It’s simply impossible to keep up. There’s too much stuff published online every day — hell, every minute! Why feel pressured or guily about not being able to achieve an impossible ideal?

Here’s what I do…

Continue reading

Spam in my feed… Ugh…

No, my post yesterday was NOT supposed to mention Viagra extensively. My blog has been hacked. I’m working on fixing it.

UPDATE: After I posted this, Mihai Parparita brought to my attention that he’s also seeing this spam in Google Reader. (Thanks, Mihai.) So it appears my blog may have been hacked. This totally sucks, I’ll try to figure it out. Oddly, I’m not seeing the spam in Newsfire (my preferred feed reader) or Safari. Contentious readers, I invite your help in solving this problem. And my sincere apologies while I try to get this fixed.

Here, for the record, is my original post…


I syndicate Contentious via Bloglines, a popular free web-based feed reader. My 50 or so readers there got an unpleasant surprise yesterday — my Nov. 9 post from Blogworld Expo contained a huge chunk of spam — text and an image.

No, I have NOT started hawking Viagra.

Somehow, Bloglines allowed spam to be inserted in my feed. I don’t know how this happened. I’ve notified Bloglines of the problem, and will update this post when I hear back. But I checked my blog’s original feed, and the Feedburner version No spam there. The problem appears confined to Bloglines.

This royally peeves me. One of the great advantages to using feed readers is that it helps you avoid spam. Until now, there hasn’t been a way for someone to insert spam into a feed; the publisher alone controlled which content got syndicated, and how.

Whatever this problem is, I hope Bloglines solves it quick and permanently — or else expect a mass exodus of Bloglines users.

Stay tuned.

(Thanks to Average Jane for alerting me to this problem.)

How Feeds Make You Findable
Freelance Switch offered great search visibility advice — for about five years ago.

The blog Freelance Switch just published an intriguing post, Getting Exposure On Search Engines, which addresses one of the most common questions freelance writers or other content producers have. Namely, how can I make myself easy to find online?” For freelancers especially this can be an issue of professional life and death.

The author, Shaun Crowley, offered great advice — for about five years ago.

His column overlooked entirely one key tool — feeds — that can easily outpace the results of everything else he recommended (SEO keywords, search-engine-friendly presentation, browser compatibility, inbound links, directory listings, etc.).

While Crowley did recommend that freelancers start blogging, he only addressed that in terms of a publication, not in terms of what they should do with their feed.

I’ve said it before: Learning to use feeds is a cornerstone skill for today’s online media. And that’s not just about learning to subscribe to feeds in a feed reader (although that’s a great starting point). It’s also about learning how to get your feed well connected so that it’s delivering you the most value by increasing your exposure and search engine positioning.

Here’s what everyone who wants to improve their search visibility should be doing with their feeds, and why…

Continue reading

Feeds: Getting Pretty Mainstream

David Chief, via Flickr (CC license)
How many people use feeds? Probably a whole lot more than you think.

In my Aug. 21 post, It’s not about your site anymore, I talked about how web sites are becoming less important for online content distribution as RSS feeds (with their many uses) are enjoying increasingly mainstream usage.

Basically, the trend is that more people are more interested in getting the content they want delivered to them wherever they prefer to be, rather than having to make a special “trip” online to someone’s site. And they’re using lots of popular tools to do just that.

Reader Steve Sergeant (of The Wildebeat, a great podcast) responded with a perspective I’ve heard often. He said:

“I agree that this is true for the bleeding-edge, early adopters, among which I count myself. …But in my experience, the average news consumer and person with a non-media job often has no idea what an RSS reader or aggregator is. Sure, an adventuresome few have discovered iTunes for podcasts or some server-side aggregator, like My Yahoo.”

While it may be true that most net users aren’t yet using feeds (or perhaps most of them are, I just haven’t found current statistics on that), earlier research and current trends indicate that feeds may have already grown far more popular than conventional wisdom might lead us to assume.

Furthermore, I think general ignorance of the key role that feeds play in supporting many of today’s most popular online-media services and experiences may be causing significant harm — especially to journalism, and thus to democracy and other forms of self-determination.

Sounds extreme, I know. Hear me out…

Continue reading

Teaching Online Skills: Journalism Prof Wants Ideas
MSU prof Dave Poulson wants to lead his students into the murky waters of online media.

(NOTE: I’m cross-posting this from Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits, since I thought Contentious readers might find it interesting as well.)

Today I received an intriguing query from my colleague Dave Poulson, associate director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University. With his permission, I’m excerpting and answering it here.

Poulson wrote: “…I’m going to take your concept of coming up with a toolkit of basic online stuff a reporter should know and turn it into some class assignments. I’ll have them pick a beat and set up Google Reader to [subscribe to] relevant feeds. I’m not sure how I’ll evaluate the result.”

That’s a great idea, Dave! Make sure they practice subscribing to search feeds (about topics), as well as feeds from specific sources (like blogs). And here’s a short video tutorial on Google Reader I made for one of my clients. The first half of it is the bare basics, most applicable to what your students would be doing.

To evaluate this assignment, you could have student export their feed list as an OPML file and send it to you. In Google Reader, that’s under “manage subscriptions,” then “import/export” (choose the “export” option there.) You can then import that OPML file into your Google Reader (or many other feed readers) to see what they’ve subscribed to.

Poulson continues…

Continue reading

It’s Not About Your Site Anymore

Amy Gahran
In your own home, you get to put the couch where YOU want it. Who cares if that’s not the living room?

Here’s another reason why learning to use a feed reader is a cornerstone skill for truly succeeding in online media today:

It’s not about your site anymore.In fact, it hasn’t been for at least a couple of years now.

In other words: The way online media works today, you’ll probably succeed more through participation and off-site distribution (syndication) than through publishing alone.

More and more people — especially, but not exclusively, younger folk (you know, the people you hope will become your community or customers someday) — prefer to craft their own custom hubs for information and interaction. That’s what’s driving the popularity of feed-supported, syndication-oriented social media experiences like Facebook, MySpace, MyYahoo, iGoogle, Digg,, YouTube, co.mments, Twitter, and podcasting. (And, on the bleeding edge, Zude, CoComment, and Pageflakes.)

It’s kind of like furnishing your home…

Continue reading

What Does Feedburner’s “Reach” Really Mean?

What’s the difference between feed subscribers and “reach?”

The popular service Feedburner, which manages and augments feeds (I use it for this blog), offers a wide range of measuring services to tell you how well you’re connecting with people via your feed.

One of its metrics, “Reach,” which is supposed to indicate active engagement by subscribers, was puzzling me. Today Feedburner tells me I have 2333 subscribers to the Feedburner version of the feed (including people who get my e-mail alerts via Feedblitz, which is generated from my Feedburner feed). However, my “reach” is only 206. What exactly does that mean?

I delved into it further. Bottom line: I have reason to suspect that, depending on your subscribers’ habits, Feedburner’s reach metric may be underestimating your level of audience engagement — perhaps drastically. Here’s why…

Continue reading

Why Feed Readers and Public Comments are Cornerstone Skills

DanieVDM, via Flickr (CC license)
What makes a cornerstone skill online?

Recently I wrote about my frustration about what I perceive as low adoption rates for cornerstone skills for today’s online media — especially by people who are interested in online media.

Here’s a bit more explanation about why I think learning to use a feed reader and getting experience making public comments on blogs or forums (not just e-mail lists) are so crucial to really “getting” what’s so important and powerful about online media.

It all boils down to mindset. The catch is, changing your mind isn’t all in your head. The most effective, lasting way to adapt your online-media mindset, habits, and priorities is to actually use these skills — not just know about them in a theoretical sense…

Continue reading