One of the challenges/opportunities for the Star and thestar.com is getting the news out as efficiently and quickly to as many of our readers as possible. In the past we have offered subscription emails (for a modest fee), SMS messaging and discussion forums, which met with varying degrees of success.
Currently on thestar.com we offer email newsletters (ranging from daily news stories to the new Constant Shopper email), desktop News Alerts and RSS feeds. Each method has different pluses and minuses and are geared to users with differing levels of technical aptitude.
Our News Alerts are a free downloadable PC-only application that, once installed, alerts you to breaking news stories whether you have a web browser open or not.
RSS feeds can be a real time saver, but so far they seem to have been adopted mainly by readers who have a higher comfort zone with technical applications - even though using them amounts to just a copy-and-paste job. Click on an RSS feed and copy the URL (usually looks like http://www.thestar.com/images/xml/968793972154.xml) in to your clipboard. Where to paste it is the tricky bit. You need an application that can read the RSS feed and present it to you a user friendly format, such as Feedreader or Sage for Firefox - but you can go to any search engine and type in RSS reader and you will have myriad applications to choose from. Install the application, paste in the feed URL and you have a customizable "file folder" for all of your favourite feeds. In 2006 we will continue to use RSS feeds in more innovative and useful ways.
Let us know your thoughts on the usefulness of these technologies - drop us your comments.