View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Comment
March 14, 2013

Google kills off its most useful tool for journalists. Why?

By Jon Bernstein

In less than four months Google Reader will be no more. The RSS feed reader that allows you to view, scan and read everything from your key news sources – all in one place – is being retired because, says the company, fewer and fewer people are using it. In a blog post published on Wednesday Urs Hölzle, Google's senior vice president of technical infrastructure no less, wrote:

We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. 

Which rather misses the point. First, as Om Malik points out over on PaidContent, there’s a direct link between that decline in usage and a lack of marketing and development investment. Here correlation really does equal causation.

Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, an RSS reader was never meant to be mainstream in the way that, say, email is.

It is, instead, a niche product with enormous impact. It is niche, in part, because it requires (a little) technical nous – and explaining its application to a non-user is not the easiest thing to do. Unless, your non-user needs quick access to multiple sources in near real-time. Like a journalist, for instance.

Content from our partners
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it
Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution
Papermule: Workflow automation for publishers

RSS readers are used by what might be termed grandly as opinion formers or, at least, those who reach an audience. Like a journalist, for instance.

Name another technology that allows you to cover so much ground in one place. Social news readers – like Flipboard or Google’s own Currents – come close but these are built around the publication not the time frame. RSS readers do both.

Twitter can be fabulously useful but more to gauge the buzz, rather than for completeness. Or to borrow the words of Adam Tinworth:

Twitter is where I go to find out what's happening. My RSS reader is where I go to become informed.

As is invariably the case when it comes to technology these tools co-exist, they trade on their strengths and get used in tandem. Soon there will be one fewer out there.

Of course, there is no shortage of alternative feed readers –  the Online Journalism Blog is crowdsourcing people’s favourties right now. But that doesn’t stop this being a puzzling move from the normally sure-footed Google.

 

Topics in this article : , , , ,

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network