There's no shortage of news content on the web. But finding just the news you want isn’t always easy. As a practical matter, it's close to impossible to create a search that finds only the pearls and not the junk. That's why many libraries are offering news monitoring and filtering services for those times when human intervention is required.
RSS readers/aggregators are great tools for collecting content from disparate sources together into a central workspace where you can review a large volume of news relatively quickly. Free content from the web and search feeds from premium services such as LexisNexis, Llesiant and Factiva can co-exist side by side in your reader.
You can choose to view your feeds in Outlook (Newsgator Inbox), on the web (Google Reader, Bloglines, Newsgator Online) or in a separate application (FeedDemon, RSS Bandit). Some readers offer ways to customize your reading experience by letting you choose the colors, skins and layouts that you prefer.
That’s all well and good, but if you’re monitoring topics for others, how do you take the news from your reader, and deliver your finely filtered results the people who need it?
Certainly, many desktop RSS readers, such as FeedDemon, have “clippings” folders into which you can drag, drop and store the stories you find. Newsgator Online, FeedDemon’s online cousin will allow you to create an custom RSS feed for the contents of such folders. It's also easy to create your very own RSS feed with Bloglines and Google Reader. But these are public feeds, and besides, how many of your attorneys regularly read RSS feeds? I'm thinking not very many.
The feature that I find lacking in the readers I've looked at is the ability to export selected articles to an attractive and customizable report format that can be cut and pasted into an email.
The closest I’ve found so far is a reader called Awasu. As you review your feeds, you can move any feed items you want to save to a “workpad." You can set up as many workpads as you want, and create reports from these workpads. That's a start. But the report formats (templates) provided are fairly basic. While you can customize them, it's not quite as straightforward a process as I'd like.
My most recent experiment involved Newsgator Inbox and Onenote 2007, installed on my home computer. With the "Send to OneNote" feature, I can review RSS items in Outlook (Newsgator), right click on an item, click "Send to OneNote", and the entry is nicely copied to the OneNote Sidenotes tab:
I like the format. But each entry is saved on a separate page. You can easily email individual items, but consolidating them into one list would be cumbersome.
Do you monitor/filter news for people in your organization using RSS? What tools work for you?