In today’s information-rich world, there’s no excuse for not staying current with the goings-on in your field, whether it’s real estate, technology or Web marketing. But while every industry and industry niche is awash in news sites and publications, you can uncover even more information by adding industry blogs and user-generated news sites to your reading list.
Despite the proliferation of these “News 2.0” sources of information, many people don’t take advantage of them. Don’t make that mistake. If you’re on a job interview and your potential boss mentions yesterday’s provocative post on one of your field’s must-read blogs, you want to be able to run with the remark -- not run from it.
To do that, you need to know how to tap trustworthy resources and manage the avalanche of information available online. Surfing from one story with a thousand “diggs” to another? That’s a recipe for disaster. You’ll waste time, and you’re likely to fall into the trap of believing all information is equal. To make the most of this new world of news, you need help figuring out what’s credible and how to manage your staple of information resources to stay productive. Here’s how you can hook into smart, credible News 2.0 sources.
The Blogroll Is Your Friend
If you’ve dismissed blogs as quirky timewasters, think again. With even CEOs blogging, the trend is something more than a glorified mode of procrastination.
Google your industry and the word “blog” (or head right to Google Blog Search), and your search will turn up blogs crammed with industry news and resources. Start broadly (“nursing blog,” say) and then narrow your search (“ER nursing blog,” for instance) to see what’s out there. Blogs can be your ticket to industry news nirvana for a number of reasons:
- Bloggers assemble the latest headlines (and gossip) from a variety of sources, including mainstream publications and insider-y industry discussions.
- Blog comment sections give you a quick take on the discussion surrounding industry news.
- Blogs can help you tap a virtual community of insiders. Rather than just getting news, you may be able to make connections.
Blogs can also point you to other industry sources via the blogroll -- the blogger’s list of favorite blogs, publications and industry personalities. Think of the blogroll as an industry cheat sheet. If you find several active blogs for your field, use them (and their blogrolls) to track down industry podcasts, online-only publications and executive blogs.
Unlike the New York Times, blogs have little, if any, institutional history behind them, so how can you tell if a blog is reliable? The quality of the blogger’s writing and his level of fairness can provide some indication. You can also look to the comments section to see how others respond to the blogger’s posts. And if a blog is listed on plenty of other bloggers’ blogrolls, that’s a sure sign the blog is viewed as a top resource for your field.
You Create the News (for Better, and Sometimes for Worse)
Blogs aren’t the only new sources of industry news. A new generation of news spots is turning the tables on big-media companies by letting users decide which stories deserve headline treatment. At spots like Digg, Reddit and Wikio, users submit news headlines, rate news stories and comment on the news.
Look to industry-specific categories or “tags” at these spots to find news that’s relevant to you. But don’t rely on these spots (not yet, at least) for your entire news diet. Gossip, rumor and hype-driven top 10 lists are sometimes the big news here, even if those items aren’t really essential reading.
Avoid Information Overload
Once you have this bounty of information, you need a way to manage it. By using RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication, you can simplify your life by bringing all your news together in one spot.
Though the mechanics of RSS vary, depending on the software on your computer, all of today’s latest Web browsers include RSS capabilities or add-ons sometimes known as RSS readers. With an RSS reader, you can subscribe to updates at your news sources of choice. (The news source will need to provide an RSS feed, often a standard feature.) Then, instead of visiting scores of Web sites, you tap into your RSS reader to see brief, ad-free headlines all in one spot, making it easy to pick and choose what you really want (or need) to read.