Local RSS: What do the leading regional newspapers offer? - Part 1

 by Martin Belam, 2 December 2008

With job cuts and financial uncertainty in the sector, and the BBC Trust's decision to prevent the BBC producing £68m worth of new local news content, I've turned my attention to a selection of the UK's leading regional newspapers to assess their online offerings. I started last week with with an overview of the video content that they provide. Today I wanted to turn my attention to RSS - and look at the syndication services provided by ten of the sites.

RSS swatch

Manchester Evening News  Manchester Evening News

The Manchester Evening News offers a range of RSS feeds, and the main feed is auto-discoverable from the homepage. There is a help page which explains what RSS is, and which promises that there are feeds for various sections. I couldn't, however, locate a definitive list of which areas of the site you could subscribe to.

Express And Star  West Midlands Express & Star

The Express & Star offers 3 flavours of RSS feed - 'news', 'sport' and 'Everything-in-One'. The news feed is auto-discoverable from the site's homepage. Content in the feed is of mixed format - some items feature a headline and an image, some items a headline and a snippet, and some feature all three. On some pages there is a small promo for the RSS content on the right-hand side.

Express & Star RSS promo

Liverpool Echo  Liverpool Echo

The Liverpool Echo offers over 200 RSS feeds from their site map page, covering every section of the paper, included audio and video content. They are though, a little difficult to subscribe to, as the RSS logos point through to the site map, rather than the relevant feeds themselves.

Liverpool Echo RSS info

Belfast Telegraph  Belfast Telegraph

Flying the flag for Northern Ireland in my selection of 20 regional papers is the Belfast Telegraph. The property is owned by Independent News & Media, and so shares a visual design family with The Independent. This means that the major section headings on the homepage have a feed logo next to them, and that all sections can be encouraged to output RSS by adding /rss to the end of the URL.

Belfast Telegraph technology homepage slot with RSS logo

Glasgow Evening Times  Glasgow Evening Times

The Glasgow Evening Times does not offer RSS feeds, although they do curiously have live headline pages for news and sport which publish the latest stories in chronological order and are almost RSS feeds.

Glasgow Evening Times live sport headlines

Dundee Courier  Dundee Courier

The only type of subscriptions you can find on the Dundee Courier site is a link to a page offering print subscriptions to D C Thomson properties like the 'Beano' and 'Animals and You'. There isn't a hint of RSS.

Courier Masthead

Newcastle Chronicle  Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Evening Chronicle

The Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Evening Chronicle has the same set-up as the Liverpool Echo. There are plenty of feeds, but you have to visit the site map to subscribe to them.

Shropshire Star  Shropshire Star

Likewise, The Shropshire Star has the same online RSS features as the sister papers represented by the West Midlands Express & Star. Topic specific RSS feeds are highlighted next to the relevant content on the homepage, although there is no definitive list of what is available via the site's RSS help page.

This Is  Leicester Mercury

The Leicester Mercury site is the first of the 'This is...' branded sites I've looked at in this survey. These do provide RSS feeds, Leicester has 97 available, but so far they are the first regional paper I've seen that offers RSS but that doesn't make it auto-discoverable from the homepage.


Tomorrow I'll be looking at another ten of the most successful regional papers in the UK, and seeing what RSS feeds they provide.


Did you check whether the feeds have partial or full articles in them?

(Disclosure: I work for the M.E.N. and we have partial at the moment. But I'm considering following our sister website, guardian.co.uk, in offering full feeds...)

Paul, hopefully the table in the second part of this article answers your question - you'd be the first to go 'full fat'.

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