Bert Van Wassenhove considers RSS to still be “a diamond in the rough” which has not yet been picked up by the mainstream public. The reason for this, according to him, is that:
[Newspapers] copied their paper/website logic to RSS feeds without adapting it to the medium. As a result, you get long lists of news articles with no difference between front-page news and a small article at the back of the newspaper.
To solve this problem, he proposes editors to (also) offer a “front-page feed”, which would contain only the most popular (automatic) or most important (handpicked) items.
Not a bad idea at all (are you listening, deredactie?), but even more important; shouldn’t news-websites start treating RSS as a publication-channel in its own right, containing the entire article (and why not even enclosures for AV-material)? Because, expecting me to click through, seriously?
RSS-feeds can indeed be a great way for readers to focus on content, without the overhead of the “normal” website-context. Heck, I’d even accept some text-ads and links to related items in there if need be. Publishers will sooner or later really have to let go of the concept of their (semi-)walled garden as the only place where visitors are allowed to consume their content (as they had to let go of the paper-only distribution-model). Focus on reach (“content views”) instead of pageviews, allow your readers to decide in which context the content is consumed (think rss-reader, think syndication, think mash-ups, …)!
I happened to stumble across this full atom-feed for deredactie.be, containing entire articles and enclosures for images, audio and video and it’s just great! I’m sure it could help info-overloaded users to keep more up-to-date with the news and that an official (because this one isn’t) full feed from deredactie could massively improve the reach of the great VRT nieuwsdienst content (according to CIM they’re really not doing that great when compared to the competition).
So, let me quote Bert; “Mr. editor in chief, please help RSS to become the success it deserves to be” and I’ll happily add “Set your content free!” to that.