Any technology or financial journalist that isn't using RSS needs to be taken outside and hit, said an industry expert this week.

Fergus Burns, CEO of Irish firm, advises business on using RSS to manage and distribute their corporate news. He believes that British companies are interested in exploring RSS, as many US organisations already do, but aren’t convinced that journalists will be picking it up.

"The feedback that we get in the UK is that companies like the idea and see the benefits, but just don't have the demand," he said.

Mr Burns feels UK journalists have to work harder to convince the UK business community about the advantages of RSS.

"This is what I call a 'me too' world.

"If your competitor has RSS, it compels you to do it too."

Fergus Burns,

In his view, the uptake of this technology will increase rapidly once it becomes more widely used.

"Ten years ago PR guys were told to stop using the fax and start using email," Mr Burns told dotJournalism.

"This is what I call a 'me too' world. If your competitor has RSS, it compels you to do it too."

RSS, or Rich Site Summary, is a string of text from a website and many news sites offer their latest news headlines by RSS.

Users find the RSS section on a site, and copy the web feed address in to a desktop or web-based tool. As new headlines are added to that site, they show in a simple text-only form, with a link back to the full story on the site.

RSS has become a staple research tool in the US – particularly for journalists in the technology sector.

Major technology companies such as Microsoft and IBM now offer news updates by RSS, as well as email newsletters and a news section on their websites.

Prominent American web journalists such as Dan Gillmor have been encouraging firms to issue press releases and corporate news by RSS.

Corporations benefit by distributing their news instantly to a committed audience of RSS subscribers; journalists benefit because the news comes to them as soon as it is issued, helping them stay ahead of the game.

Mr Burns will be pleased to know the UK government is not dragging its heels quite as much as the business sector and has begun to publish RSS for news stories.

But it is the UK's media that leads the way.

RSS feeds are available on most major UK news sites, with BBC News Online,, Guardian Unlimited and Mail online all offering an extensive range of feeds.

Times Online is also looking at introducing RSS feeds on its site, according to online editorial director Peter Bale.

"I'm very keen on RSS - it's an effective tool for syndication," he told dotJournalism.

"We have to look at the implications for our syndication business, but as long as it generates traffic for the site it is something we are likely to introduce."

He also hinted that the feeds could contain advertising.

"News is expensive to produce. If people want content for free they have to be prepared to have adverts," said Mr Bale.

"It's up to the advertising department to be imaginative."

• In February, Nooked will be publishing a database of RSS news feeds published by more than 150 international corporations. The information will be free to access, so journalists can use the database to find new sources of RSS-distributed news.

More news from dotJournalism:
Don't get left behind in the RSS race
RSS - now via Firefox
Guardian to expand RSS feeds
RSS guide published

• To start using RSS, download one of the following programmes and then subscribe to feeds from your favourite news sites.

RSS programme for PCs:

RSS programme for Macs:

dotJournalism RSS feed:

Guardian Unlimited’s RSS:,,,00.xml

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