At least they tried

I hit the LSU page of The Advocate (the Baton Rouge daily, not the national gay newspaper) tonight to catch the post-game Tennessee / pre-game Alabama coverage, and lo and behold … The Advocate has a (not at all gay) new design.

Check it: Advocate redesign. OK, it”s not spectacular. White background – what a concept. I”m not going to nitpick … still no linking of the big-assed logo to the front page? trying to compete with for the most links you can put on a page? … but one thing really sets me off.

The Advocate has launched a pretty full set of RSS feeds, but apparently the Manship family still doesn”t quite grasp the concept. Understandable in a place like Baton Rouge, I guess, but here”s a tip:

RSS is not a means to shove out headlines with no content attached. Giving me a feed that says “LSU defense comes up big” but has no snippet of the story is not syndication. It”s closer to spam. The proper form for such a bit of RSS would be:

LSU defense comes up big
LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini shook his head and said it seemed like the Tigers gave up 100 points Saturday. In reality, the best passing game to face LSU this season wasn’t good enough, as the Tigers rallied to beat Tennessee 28-24.

That”s syndication. Give me a little bit of content (the lead) to see in my RSS environment and if it”s compelling, I”ll click over and read the full story on The Advocate website. If I”m not compelled by what I see in RSS, I”m not clicking over. Sure, I”m probably going to click on “LSU defense comes up big” because of my interest in the Tigers, but “Police and fire briefs for Nov. 6″ isn”t bringing me over.

I suspect this is typical newspaper thinking: “My God, we can”t give away the content!!!”. It”s not surprising that an old-school organization like The Advocate would come to understand “we need RSS” without really understanding the use case behind it.

That”s unfortunate, and hopefully they”ll catch on someday.

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