22 December 2009

News: Personalized

If you're tired of sifting through all of the headlines at traditional news sites, try MeeHive or NewsCred. I've introduced both to my journalism students and will be doing the same with my geography students in the new year.

Both sites allow users, upon free registration, to create a daily online newspaper that is specific to the user's interests. Want to know what's happening in the world of professional sports? You can get all the headlines. Want to know the latest on the Swine Flu? Both sites can get you the top stories from around the world.

I first introduced my students to MeeHive in early 2009 when we were studying climate change. MeeHive allows you to create a personalized paper by selecting topics within more broad categories such as US and World, Business and Finance or Science and Technology. MeeHive allows the user to choose how to receive the news (I get daily updates through email) including through their iPhone app or your RSS reader. MeeHive is also part social network in that it allows you to connect with other users who have similar interests.

NewsCred offers many of the same features, including the ability to have followers. NewsCred also grabs stories from all over world on your topics of interest. It also can deliver daily emails of your top news stories conveniently categorized according to your interests. NewsCred allow you to create a publicly viewable 'newspaper' without the need to log in. Here's mine for 12.20.09. NewsCred will also allow users to write editorials on topics in their personalized papers. NewsCred has a premium service that removes branding and allows you to have a more personalized domain name.

So, which is better? It's hard to say. My students seem to prefer MeeHive and many of them regularly use it to review current events. I find the daily email from NewsCred easier to deal with because it's categorized. If I'm not interested in a particular category on a particular day, I can easily skip it. As an educator, I like the potential for having students write their own editorials on news topics within the NewsCred interface.

Overall, both services have great potential in the classroom. Newspapers can be personalized for topics under study. You could even have students do daily news round-ups using their papers.