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How to create a custom news feed

Pay attention, class, we’re going to learn how to create a custom feed.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we’re going to assume that we’re interested in the great Argentine writer Julio Cortazar, and we want to keep up to date on any news about him. For this purpose we’ll use Google News, but the same principles apply in other scenarios. For example, you could create a feed of del.icio.us or technorati tags.

We could subscribe to a Google News Alert, but that would clutter up our in-box with an endless stream of e-mails. Instead we’ll collect all the news in one place that we can access with our browser.

Okay, first we enter our search term, Julio Cortazar, in the Google News search box.

step 1: the search box

On the resulting page we select the feed link (“RSS” or “Atom” at left; either will work in most readers).

finding the feed link

Next we copy the url of the feed page:

copying the url

Now we go to our feed reader of choice. There are plenty to choose from, among them Bloglines, Google Reader, Rojo, Pluck, etc. I happen to prefer Newsgator. There we select the “URL & Import” option (at right in the screen shot below), and we paste in our url:

importing the url

Once we import the url Newsgator will ask if we want to move it to a particular subfolder. This is handy because sooner or later your feeds will start to get out of control if you use your feed reader much.

Now we can view Julio Cortazar news and our other feeds simply by going to newsgator.com rather than having to navigate to all the different sites. We could also view blog posts through our feed reader, even if our workplace blocked them with something like Surf Control — a handy work-around for those who need to do strictly work-related research. 😉
viewing the feed

By the way, the new Firefox 2.0 browser has a feed subscription button built in that will simplify this process (specify your reader in preferences, click the feed button, bingo).

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2 Comments

  1. I will have to try it out! Thanks AA

  2. Vicki

    In my work as a Research Assistant, I found the resource of Google News Alerts very helpful. However, I was frustrated with having this information in email form only and not in news feed form. (My news reader of choice is Bloglines.com.) Thank you very much for the information on this web page, which has enabled me to customize as many news feeds as I need or want on the same subjects as Google News Alerts.

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