This wonderful piece by Mark Glaser of the Online Journalism Review takes the reader inside Yahoo! News, offering a glimpse of the partly automated news portal that receives over 20-million unique viewers per month. while some details of the operation remain hidden, the article does divulge interesting conversations about Yahoo!’s news, syndication, and RSS strategies. I took particular interest in the high recognition that many readers enter Yahoo! News via a single story, not through the front page. This basic fact is increasingly true in the age of blogging and feeding. Speaking of RSS, the article drives home how progressive Yahoo! has been, and will continue to be, in bringing RSS to the masses effortlessly and without need of much explanation. By avoiding the very term “RSS” for the most part, Yahoo! treats feeds as news sources on an equal level with its AP and Reuters modules on the My Yahoo! page. This degree of user-friendly transparency and egolessness is extremely important. The degree of customization made possible by My Yahoo!’s close intermingling with Yahoo! News, and the company’s fluency with RSS, makes Google News (even with its new customization feature) look like an elephant in a china shop.
Yahoo! News is gearing up for a design overhaul, scheduled to hit your screen later this month. Previews of coming changes indicate an ongoing fragmentation of prepackaged news, and even finer customization. It appears that users will be able to add RSS feeds to the Y! News page, adding a bidirectional integration between News and My Yahoo!. Some kind of IM integration will also happen, enabling seamless sharing of news stories via Yahoo! Messenger. (Why can’t the music companies see their content in this light, and open it to value-enhancing sharing?)