Newspapers today come with stories consisting of the facts of the story (hopefuly ;)) and commentary. Sometimes they are intermingled and sometimes they are completely separate.
Today, I can get all the non commentary news on websites with ease (I use news.bbc.co.uk as most people in the UK seem to). This has meant that the factual news content inside newspapers is redundant for me – I invariably skip through it. However, good commentary is much harder to get hold of – and even better for the newspaper involved, often unique to their product. Now if each of these journalists had their own blog which they wrote their commentaries on, I could pick the commentators I like and go subscribe to their rss feed and not have to buy the newspapers anymore.
Of course there are a few problems here – one: I just said I wasn’t going to buy newspapers anymore. Hardly good news for said publisher. But these commentators are valuable – ie you could charge for access to all of the the commentators working for the publisher. This leads to another possible issue..
Commentators become higher profile. Suddenly they are what makes a news publisher – I don’t see this as an issue, I think this exists to a certain extent today already – just mostly offline rather than online – each paper has its own style/vstandpoints and invariably their commentators will be suited to this – so there is the ability to maintain the existing brand umbrella.
Looking at the major news publishers out there..
This one is a bit difficult as I no longer have a FT subscription, but they do list their commentators on their front page which gives a profile of them. I believe you can then see all their stories but there is no mention of RSS feeds anywhere.
Conclusion: Well in my view all the content is useful so maybe these guys are the exception 🙂
They have an rss feed on their front page which links to a page that lists a few categories (Britain, World, Sport, Business). But I cannot see any mention of the commentators anywhere – let alone rss feeds for them.
Conclusion: Useless, unless you want to use them as your main news source..
Difficult to find anything on their commentators – but then their website is awful. (for some reason it felt like every click I made opened a new window – I ended up closing the entire site). Anyhow, on returning to the site, I found a link to RSS right down the bottom of the page 🙂 On clicking it, there is a long list of different topics which you can subscribe to – no commentators though.
Conclusion: Slightly better – at least their categories are more tailored to the content..
Commentators get their own section on the site and they have a huge number of rss feeds. On top of that, you can get the commentators as an rss feed. The one problem is they are grouped together (so Commentators A-L for example). It is also the cleanest layout I have found. Nicely done..
Conclusion: Almost there 🙂 Just need blogs for each of their commentators.
They have blogs based on topic ares (technology, news, business etc) and they have a list of their commentators on their front page – but no access to rss feeds. They only have an rss feed for their overall site.
Conclusion: They call their areas blogs and they do work like blogs.. but rss implementation is weak to non-existent..
Conclusion: Useless 🙁
They have rss feeds – but only by topic. They charge for access to the commentators – so there may be rss feeds inside. Layout of the commentators areas needs work though – a blog layout is the way forward 😉
Conclusion: Not there yet.
Commentators have their own areas – but no ability for interaction/blog layout. RSS feeds are difficult to find – turns out they are available within each subsection (not a bad idea in itself – but there should be a centralised area as well).
Conclusion: Not there yet.
The Independent is the best but all in all, none of the papers in the UK online at the moment do what I want. It is no use anyhow if only a few papers do it (though it would be a start). I want to be able to pick and choose the commentators I subscribe to. Does this mean I may not want to subscribe to a specific newspaper – damned right it does. Maybe its time to set up a central point for freelance commentators to congregate and sell their wares – a new form of news publisher?
As of this moment, I will have am subscribing to the people I think are experts in the industry I am interested in – these are mostly in the online space but that will change. – As a result I am still buying one of the sunday papers 😉