An experiment in creating a news feed on the Writers' Know-how website

News Bulletin

But could the news be automated?

But could the news be automated?

Last week I decided to create a news feed on the Writers' Know-how website, as an experiment. There were two compelling reasons to try this out.

First, I had in mind that a short news item every day -- or even several a day -- would be an interesting way of keeping the website up-to-date without having to spend ages on a full-length blog post each time.

Second, creating a news feed also creates a separate RSS feed from the main blog, and I thought that this could be used as the basis for producing a newsletter. That's because it is technically possible to generate a newsletter from an RSS feed with some mailing list companies.

However, in practice I found the following:

First, by the time you have found something to write about, written it, sourced a suitable illustration, tagged it and hit "Publish", you might just as well have spent a few minutes extra time on publishing a "proper" blog post. Basically I discovered that a blog post of, say, 50 words doesn't take a tenth of the time required to write a blog post of 500 words. It's more like a third to a half.

Second, setting up a situation in which "quick" blog posts show up first on the screen, which is what I did, makes it look all the worse when the updates are not very frequent.

Third, because I set up the Front Page on the website to display the news items first, when viewed on a mobile phone the latest blog posts didn't show up at all -- because the short news items took up all of the screen space.

I've decided that there are better ways of generating an automated or semi-automated newsletter, should I ever wish to. So, I have decided to abandon the dedicated news feed. Fortunately, only 4 items have been published on it, so it won't take me long to republish them on this, the main blog.

In the meantime, I'm trying out a different approach, and will report on that in due course.