The Los Angeles Times recently launched a branded RSS reader called Newspoint. The idea here is to introduce RSS to the masses by providing users with a simple tool they can install on their machines and start using RSS even if they don’t really know what it is. Conveniently, once installed the reader automatically subscribes you to seemingly all of LA Times’ various feeds.

This is not a bad idea. Its potentially a really great idea if executed well. The problem I have is that the Newspoint RSS reader is sort of terrible. Here is a breakdown of the major issues I had with it:

(1) Newspoint only shows you article headlines. So partial and full text RSS feeds are turned into headline only feeds by Newspoint. The goal here is clearly to drive clicks to the LA Times website so they can serve more ads. It doesn’t make for a good feed reading experience, as your constantly going back and forth between Newspoint and your browser when trying to read stories. It’s clunky.

(2) The Newspoint RSS reader includes ads. So essentially by using this I’m doubling up on the ads. I see ads within Newspoint and then see different ads when I click through to the LA Times content included in Newspoint. How about serving the ads in Newspoint and showing me full text of the article so I don’t have to click through?

(3) The Recommended Content is a little too LA Times centric. As mentioned, the reader comes loaded with recommended content. The only non-LA Times content is a few international news feeds (stuff like BBC, Guardian, etc.). Would have been interesting to include a few non-Times related LA-based blogs on the recommended list. There are plenty of them.

(4) I don’t like that I have to install it on my machine. Why not offer a web version in addition to a version you install on your machine? I would think lots of people are going to run the other way when asked to install software. I’ll be uninstalling it shortly.

There are a million RSS readers on the market and just about every single one I’ve tried provides a better reading experience than Newspoint. This technology feels two to three years behind. I just don’t see how this will impress anybody.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.