Rolling Your Own Newsroom

Financial professionals by their very nature are news junkies. I’ve always enjoyed building my own quick tools to parse information and share it with my co-workers, friends, and family. When I was at Bear Stearns I built a few subject-related iGoogle tabs and shared them with clients or co-workers. I looked at these tools as the poor man’s version of Bloomberg, since you could cobble together Yahoo or Google finance data with news feeds to make a focused custom page.

Recently my friends and family were asking me how to keep track of the “Wall Street Crisis.” I gave them sites and feeds–but they kept asking me for what I was reading. I spend a considerable amount of time reading, watching, and listening to news all day long. I email, Twitter, and forward links and stories throughout the day. So in essence, I am my own news editor. I enjoy tools like Snackr (thanks Marshall) which allows me to have a real time ticker-like interface for my feeds, and digg the giant social news filter. But one of the key tools I love to use is Google’s Reader.

What I like about Google’s Reader is the ability to tag items and then turn those tags into feeds for friends or inputs to other applications, like Yahoo Pipes. As I started playing with tags and feeds, I realized that you could create a real useful and simple version of a personal Newsroom. So I built a basic page of headline stories (think Drudgereport) using some Typepad RSS widgets. It took me about 2 hours to get the whole thing functioning through my existing Typepad site. It’s basic and gives me 80% of the functionality that I wanted.

I created five categories that are important to me and my audience: Technology, Finance & Economics, Politics, Crisis of the Moment, and Weird Wild Stuff. As I read throughout the day, I hand tag all the items that I think are interesting. The feeds automatically update through my tagging and with a small bit of delay they appear on the page.

The key is that all of the items that make it to the page have been reviewed and selected by me. So I am cultivating these stories and sources for my audience instead of having automated keyword tagging populate a feed. The process of reading and tagging is quite scalable (cruising through 1000’s of items is pretty painless). Ultimately it allows me to have a place in which my current hot topics are available for my friends. And as a bonus, if my friends use newsreaders they can subscribe to my five topic feeds (I use feedburner to manage the process)

You can check out my mini-news room.

If you are a small organization or group, this is an ideal way to keep track of topics. The cost is low, it is very simple to do and a snap to manage. Google Reader has other features for sharing and annotating links that you could use as well.