There's too much stuff on the News Journal web page, so it takes far too long to load. Some sections aren't well dated; it's hard to see what's actually new. And the site goes too far down the road to trying to be a social site, making things simply more confusing.
But none of those problems, as annoying as they are, is News Journal On-Line Makeover Disaster #4. No, today I want to talk to you about RSS feeds and how poorly they are implemented on the News Journal site.
RSS feeds can be a great way to organize and consume data; they are particularly useful for news and news-related content. Since I can't dependably find news content on the News Journal site, I have subscribed to three of their feeds: News, Politics, and Opinion.
The News feed seems pretty straightforward; it repeats the headlines from the main "News" section each morning. That's good. The Opinion feed doesn't appear to have been updated since May 16. That's bad. The Politics feed seems to be a special case. It updates every few hours and offers a broad spectrum of news headlines. Sometimes, there is even political news.
Here are the latest headlines from the News Journal Politics feed, as found in my reader:
- Sussex may trim money for open space, seniors (Seems political: Pass)
- Sallies-St. Andrew's lacrosse game moved to Tower Hill (Sports [unless someone political has a kid in the game]: Fail)
- Cape Henlopen fishing pier to reopen (Recreation: Fail)
- Pennsylvania midday lottery numbers (Numerology?: Fail)
- Pa. woman charged with throwing son, 4, on railroad tracks (Crime [unless she is elected somewhere?]: Fail)
- Merck agrees to $58 million settlement over Vioxx ad claims (Business: Fail)
- A day fit for the dogs — and birds (Cute photo of little white doggy behind someone's rain-speckled car window: Fail miserably)
- The Old 97's to do Dewey (Entertainment [unless Bill Lee is involved?]: Fail)
- Reaction to news of Sen. Kennedy's brain tumor (Major political news: Pass)
- Statement from Sen. Kennedy's doctors (Medical, but politics-related: Pass)
Am I being picky? Yes. But the News Journal is a business. It sells ads based on readers/viewers and I am one of those readers. My attention to the site -- my clicking through from my RSS reader -- is crucial to the business model of the News Journal site. If they make that progressively harder, they will lose readers and they will not be able to sell ads as well.
So, as a fairly polite fellow, I left a comment on the new site's readers' forum , in the section titled "Redesign Feedback." That was two weeks ago. I have had no response. I did send an e-mail to the on-line editor and got a polite, but not very helpful reply suggesting that I might be getting repeats in the RSS feeds if I've subscribed to both the "sports" feed and the "Phillies" feed. That might be an issue if they had an "Orioles" feed, but they don't.
So I decided to complain to you, and potentially, to everyone who searches the web for information on "News Journal RSS Feeds."