Let ideas come to you: Using RSS feeds for professional development

When students become editors, extra duties and stress follow — but not always new knowledge. When advisers are in the deadline grind, it’s tough to stay on top of the latest trends.

Beyond conventions and conferences, “professional development” for student editors and advisers can be hard to come by.

Whether you want more on photography, web design, podcasts, writing, broadcast, or new media, I encourage publication leaders to boost their understanding by crafting an RSS feed that is tailored toward their to-do lists and passions.

256px-rss-feedAn RSS (Really Simple Syndication/Rich Site Summary) feed is an aggregator that allows you to carve out information from the daily article deluge that is specific to an area of interest.

There are any number of apps and websites that create these feeds for you. Inoreader, Newsify, Flipboard, Feedbin, The Old Reader, and NewsTab Reader are just some of the more popular names right now.

As of this moment, I am partial to Feedly; the design is intuitive and attractive, which is something you can’t say for all RSS apps.

Inside one of these, type in keywords and then subscribe to the sources of your choice. Then, you can read a compilation of the day’s stories in that subject area. (You can also type in the URL of a website you’d like to follow.)

Screenshot from Feedly app

Right now, I have an RSS feed dedicated to digital media, with a smattering of journalism education, because my research and teaching are focused there. So, my feed consists of: Poynter, MediaShift and EducationShift, Journalism New Media, Columbia Journalism Review, Nieman Lab, Digital Trends (high volume of content!), Talking New Media, MediaStorm, and of course, JEA Digital Media.

If you are scrounging for new ideas or inventive platforms, spending a few minutes each day on a well-crafted RSS feed can yield a creative bounty.

Note: You can also build an RSS feed for a geographical area, beat, or cause (press rights), etc. The options of personalization are endless, but please encourage students to use this only as a supplement to a well-balanced diet of news and information.

Amanda Bright

Amanda Bright is a former professional journalist who later spent a decade as a scholastic journalism adviser of both newspaper and yearbook at Mattoon High School in Illinois. Currently, Bright is a journalism instructor at Eastern Illinois University and the Media Content Coordinator for Indiana State University Online; she also serves as the Social Media Director and Web Co-Administrator for the Illinois Journalism Education Association.

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