Wednesday, April 16, 2008

RSS techniques used by the media

If you use an RSS newsreader (you do, don't you?) the you will be aware that there are several ways to present an item to the world.  Most bloggers simply allow their entire entry to be uploaded onto the newsreader site.  It is then easy to scan the entire article, photos, movies and all.  If you want to make a comment or read other comments, simply click on to the site.  Otherwise keep moving down the list.

Commercial media and the BBC (which is not commercial, quite the opposite!) employ a very different technique.  The newsreader is only given a title and the first line or two of the article.  No photos, nothing visual.  Sometimes there will be a box of ads as well.  The reason for this is simple - revenue enhancement!  They want you to click through so that they can claim to the advertisers that the story is getting more hits on their website, not your newsreader!

Why the BBC does this is difficult to comprehend.  There are no advertisements on the site and the site is paid for out of the TV license.  As a provider of news the BBC can and should do a lot better.

Also, the BBC has recently begun a new tactic - catchy titles.  For example:  "A lot of steak" is about "EU rules on mince upset traditional UK beef producers."  It's all about market share, apparently.  The BBC wants you to use their site, not your newsreader.  Then they can claim that, with more page hits they are providing a better service.

In my opinion they are providing a less than good service, causing me to waste more time on the web than I care to spend.