Using RSS Newsfeeds to Get the Latest Headlines - Blogger help, tips and hacks

Using RSS Newsfeeds to Get the Latest Headlines

This Page
What's a Newsfeed?

What are RSS and ATOM?
Quick Examples
Educational Uses
Who Has News Feeds?

News Organizations
Other Web sites
Applications to View Newsfeeds

Preview RSS in Browsers
Web Services
Penn State Portal
Thunderbird (Win/Mac/Linux)
Google News Alert E-mails

Where to Subscribe
What's a Newsfeed?
A newsfeed is an XML text file which sends information about news items to a newsreader application like the Penn State Portal or by some browsers including Safari 2, Opera 8 or Internet Explorer 7.

What are RSS and ATOM?
These are two specifications (written in XML) which contain news headlines and summarys which can be read by a news reader

Sites with newsfeeds are marked with colored icon links saying RSS, XML or ATOM. RSS feeds are more common and simpler to create, but ATOM feeds may contain more informaiton including images.

You may need a newsreader or feed reader to view these sites. See the Plugins section below for information on obtaining newsreaders.

Quick examples
Penn State Portal Channels - Each "channel" reads a RSS XML file and displays it in the channel
BBC World News - This page uses an XSLT style sheet to display the RSS file in a browser.
TLT Computing with Accents Newsfeed - This page combines RSS with CSS style sheets so it can be readable in a normal browser.
Your Daily Art Blog - Includes a Newsfeed
Language Log - Linguists writing on language news and linguistics phenomena in the media

Educational Uses
Some educational benefits of monitoring newsfeeds include.

Monitoring RSS Feeds can allow students and instructors to gather the latest news and information about key subtopics.
RSS newsreaders enables more efficient scanning of news headlines, so that users can select only a few articles to read in depth.
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Who Has RSS Feeds?
Many blogs, including Blogs at Penn State, include a subsidiary RSS feed. Look for the Subscribe link or the RSS or XML icon.

News Organizations
Many news organizations contain RSS feeds (often marked with an RSS icon or XML icon). Some examples include the following. To find a news organization's RSS page, look at the bottom of the page or to the side.

Penn State Live
Washington Post RSS Feeds
New York Times RSS Feeds
BBC News
Note: You may need a specialized news reader plugin or application to view the contents as a channel. Otherwise, you may see a series of XML tags.

Other Web Sites
It does not require much effort to set up an RSS feed, so many people or organizations have created an RSS feed to provide specialized news stories. Here are just a few random examples.

Stone Pages Archaeology News
Life in the USA - American life described for newly arrived immigrants
Applications to View Newsfeeds
RSS is a technology different from regular HTML Web pages and usually requires special news reader plugins or applications to view RSS feeds correctly. These applications convert a feed to a "channel" with headlines and link to full stories.

Here are some examples of news reader applications supporting RSS files.

Preview RSS Feeds in Browsers
The following browsers have simple RSS Support. They allow to quickly view the content of a feed, but not necessarily manage subscriptions.

Internet Explorer 7 (Win)
Safari 2+ (Mac)
Firefox Extensions/Add Ons Section
Firefox, Opera and Camino also have RSS support but they may assume that you use a separate RSS reader (as listed in the next "Separate RSS Newsreaders" section.

To View feeds
Click any RSS link or enter in any RSS URL with the .xml or .rss extension (e.g.
Note: In Internet Explorer, you can also click the orange feed broadcast icon ().
Note: In Safari, you can also click the blue RSS icon () in the address bar.
A new window will appear listing headlines and links.
Note: Safari converts addresses to feed:// instead of http://
To Manage Subscriptions
The applications below are recommended if you want to manage subscriptions.

Separate RSS News Readers
If you wish to follow a newsfeed regularly, then a newsreader is recommended because they indicate new headlines and they allow you to organize your RSS feeds into category folders. Some common freeware news readers include:

Feed Reader (Windows)
Net News Wire Lite (Mac OS X) - There's also a for-fee full version
Straw (Linux)
RSS Info List
To subscribe to a news feed, find the New Channel or Subscribe button command, then copy and paste any URL ending with the .xml or .rss extension. The new "channel" will be added.

Use the folder option in each package to create categories for newsfeeds. Folders will typically list new headlines in each category; you can then click inside the folder to see individual subscriptions.

Web Services
There are also online services which let you subscribe to and organize your feeds. The advantage is that you can access your newsfeeds from any computer, but the data is stored off your computer and can be lost. Like the freeware applications, these usually include folder category support. Common ones include:
Google Reader
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Penn State Portal
Each channel on the Penn State Portal is an RSS feed. The links for the headlines direct you to an HTML page with the full news story. Below is an example of the My PSU News channel with headlines.

Each headline links to an HTML page of the story on the external Penn State Live site.
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