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news filterIn an investigative organization that I work with, we conduct a great deal of research and release news articles on our findings. Often we need to monitor the Internet for reactions and additional leads, and of course one of the best methods to do this is through the magic of RSS feeds.

However, when you consider how many thousands of website, blog and even comment RSS feeds there are on the net, the task of reading through all of those RSS information streams and extracting important information is a very daunting one. Information on the Internet is so vast that if you want to collect and analyze any meaningful information, you really need to have a system where you can add as many input data streams as possible, and then use a news filter to automatically analyze, sort and respond to only the relevant and important information.

I’ve found that the GreatNews “Intelligent RSS Reader” is just that – intelligent. With the amount of research and writing that I have to do on so many topics every month, I really don’t have time to “Google” the Internet and sift through thousands of search results. Instead, I create customized RSS feeds inside the GreatNews desktop application to aggregate all newly published information on a broad topic, and then configure GreatNews as a news filter to search through and isolate only those articles that matter to me.

Turn GreatNews Into Your Own Private Intelligence Analyst

Most major news organizations have folks back at the office who are “data miners.” These are people who specialize in digging through records and information and eventually turning up information that’s relevant to what you’re researching. If you are an expert in a given field and want to remain updating on specific niche topics that you’re interested in, I’m going to show you how you can transform GreatNews into your own private data-miner.

news filter

When you first install the GreatNews desktop app, it appears as shown above. There are default feeds and topics already on the left “feed” menu, and the center window is essentially your feed display – and it also doubles as a built-in browser that you can use to open the links and read the articles on their actual websites.


filter rss feeds

For your purpose of scouring the web for information, you’re not actually interested in subscribing to specific individual feeds as you would with a normal feed reader. Instead, you’re going to create “search feeds” that conducts Internet searches and returns the RSS feed of articles that match your query.

Adding Incoming Data Feeds For GreatNews

You set this up by clicking on “Feed” in the menu and then drilling down to Add -> Search Feed.

filter rss feeds

Let’s say you want to monitor all new Internet stories that are published on a specific person’s name. This may be a relative, a friend or someone that you’re investigating for a news story. Internet blogs are often a very valuable source of important information about any topic. Private citizens publish content every day on a huge assortment of topics, and being able to gather “public intelligence” on any keyword topic of your choice offers tremendous insight. It could also offer you a critical lead for a breaking story within your industry or field of study.

You can create “RSS Search Feeds” with MSN, Flickr, or Google Blogs as a source. You just trigger the feed to conduct the search and update the feed with any changes. Now, the data source list may feel somewhat limiting. What if you’d like to know about new articles published and appearing in a standard Google search? This is what Google Alerts is for. Abhijeet previously covered Google Alerts 7 Ways To Stay Informed And Up-To-Date Online 7 Ways To Stay Informed And Up-To-Date Online Read More , and Saikat wrote up a fantastic review 10 Uses of Google Alerts For A Freelancer 10 Uses of Google Alerts For A Freelancer Read More of the service. Within Google Alerts, you can set up search queries for specific keywords, and in the “Deliver to” field, you can change the delivery method from “Email” to “Feed.

filter rss feeds

When you do this and click “Create Alert,” Google Alerts creates a customized RSS search feed for you based on results from a standard Google search for that keyword phrase. Your feed will update anytime anything new appears within Google search listings for that keyword phrase. To add this as another valuable data stream to your GreatNews information analysis system, simply highlight and copy the feed URL from Alerts, and paste it into the Feed URL field when you create a new GreatNews feed.

organize rss feeds

It’s a very good idea to take the time to go through and set up as many search feeds as you can, so that you have as much incoming data as possible. Now that you’ve set up your data sources from throughout the Internet, it’s time to configure GreatNews to analyze and sort that information for you.

Turn GreatNews Into A News Filter

If you have a feed reader, than you’ve probably experienced “information overload” from all of the feeds you’ve set up. There’s so much information about things you don’t care about that it’s easy to miss the articles about the things you do. So, first you’re going to organize all of your feeds using the GreatNews news filter, based on the keyword topics you’re interested in monitoring.

organize rss feeds

In the left menu, right click “All Labels” and select Add -> Feed Group. Type in the topic or phrase that you are monitoring, and then click and drag all of the feeds you created into that Feed Group.

organize rss feeds

Now you’ve organized all of your incoming data feeds by search topic. When you left click on the group, you’ll see feed listings from all of the feeds you’ve added. If you wanted to, you could simply scan through these for titles that interest you and then click on “Label This” to pick off the specific stories that interest you.

You can create a new label for the sub-topic that title falls into. For example if you’re monitoring all articles about Microsoft, you may find a story about Bill Gates, so you’d create a label called “Microsoft: Bill Gates.”  This lets you click set aside important stories into “folders” that you can go back and read later.

The thing is – I’m much too busy to scroll through and pick off those topics manually. Wouldn’t it be better to have GreatNews do it for you? You can do this by right clicking on the Feed Group you created for a particular search term, and select Add -> News Watch.”

This is where it gets really cool. In this window, you can identify more specific keywords that you want GreatNews to use to pluck out stories that really interest you. For example, in a case we’re investigating, I’m looking for any new reports about a specific person that references the term “stolen valor.” So I will configure a “News Watch” that will flag all titles which cover that aspect of this topic.

Now, when you open up GreatNews, you can go directly to your special “News Watches” area and check those specific topics that you are monitoring for any new articles or news reports that were recently published.

news filter

In this example, I just had GreatNews automatically sift through hundreds of news articles on a general topic that I’m investigating, and then I had it pluck out specific articles that cover sub-topics I’ve defined as very important to me. Now, instead of scrolling through hundreds of titles, you can open up GreatNews and it will serve you the article that you wanted on a silver platter – no manual searching required on your part!

Have you ever tried using GreatNews to cut down on information overload? Give it a shot and report back what you think of the service in the comments section below.

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  1. Kevin Reynolds
    June 30, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Outstanding article! Thank you again Make Use Of!