Branded RSS readers not the way

[Poynter]( has yet another tidbit, about yet another media outlet creating a branded RSS reader.

This is a horrible idea. H o r r i b l e.


1. **Trust** — Whether you’re developing your own, or licensing a reader from someone else, you’re presenting it as coming from the site.

We live in a day and age where the line between a [healthy machine]( and one that gets [“pwnded”]( comes down to trust. Can you trust the software running on your machine.

Simply put, why should I trust **software** written by a **newspaper**? Shouldn’t they stick to writing headlines and stories?

2. **Confusion** — An explosion of branded RSS readers is likely to bring with it a variety of new terms, UI paradigms, and [“marketing-speak”](/blog/2005/01/11/thought-of-the-day-enterprise/).

This will all be done in attempt to “make RSS easier” for “our users” to “understand.”

In fact, what it will do, is fracture the mindshare of the general news consuming audience.

Imagine two friends, Bob, who reads a national paper, and Mary, who reads her local paper. Bob uses his paper’s branded RSS reader. Bob runs into Mary at the park and tells his friend about this cool thing on his newspaper’s site, called *Syndi-news*. Mary thinks that “having the news *e-filed* directly to her *Syndi-news* site”, as Bob described it, would be cool.

Mary goes home and starts looking for a *Syndi-news* link on her local paper’s site. But her local paper, doesn’t have *Syndi-news* that’s *e-filed*, it has *Accuquick Headlines*. So Mary is left out of the goodness that is RSS/Atom.

3. **Control freaks** — I think what ultimately drives the move to create branded RSS readers is a misguided attempt to maintain control over the ‘reading experience.’

I have news for the news industry, you lost it the minute you posted content in a digital format. While analog material _can_ be altered, digital content is even easier, and thus, more likely to be reformated, changed, etc. to suit what the readers want/need.

I know it’s a difficult transition to go from having control over the content, its presentation and its promotion to having control over only the content, but that’s the way the Internet is. I’m sorry, I didn’t [invent it](, that’s just the way it is.

The double-edged sword of the Internet is that content is king, yet it is also a commodity.

So, my advice is, embrace your role on the Internet. Be a content provider. Be a great content provider. Do good journalism, let your users read it, search it, index it, share it, slice it, dice it, and make julienne fries out of it.

Your readers will thank you for it.

About Chris

Python developer, Agile practitioner trying desperately not to be a pointy haired boss.
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