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Liu, working with senior Web editor Jon Fortt, combines excerpts from her interviews with music clips and her own observations about the music scene. One recent episode was built around her interview with hip-hop pioneer Kool DJ Herc. Another featured a discussion about hip-hop violinist Miri Ben-Ari, along with clips of her provocative-sounding music.

“People always wonder what [the artists] sound like,” Liu said. “It’s neat hearing them that way.”

The podcasts typically range from five to 15 minutes. But as Fortt says, “We’re in no way experts on this. We’ve got a lot to do in working out the logistics.’’

As if producing audio wasn’t enough of a stretch, some Knight Ridder newsrooms are now embracing video.

Kansas City Star reporter Dave Helling, a veteran television reporter, has gamely stepped up to shooting video as well as reporting. He is also helping train photographers to shoot video and reporters to do narration.
Photo by AARON LEIMKUEHLER/The Kansas City Star

On The Kansas City Star site, small video-camera icons next to headlines alert readers that video clips accompany the stories.

The clips are produced to look and sound like TV news segments, with voice-overs and interviews with story subjects. Two minutes or shorter, they give an “as-if-you-they-were-there’’ feel that’s not possible with text or still photos.

Video accompanied recent stories about Kansas City’s new arena football team, the post-Thanksgiving shopping rush and a court appearance by a former congressional candidate charged with misusing campaign funds.

What makes it work
The underlying technology that makes podcasting possible – that allows people to subscribe – is called RSS. That stands for Really Simple Syndication, and the idea is to make it simple for people to pull the content they want onto their computers. Whether delivering text, audio or video, RSS is radically reshaping the way people consume information on the Internet.

About 80 percent of the content on Knight Ridder sites can be subscribed to with RSS, said Nava Bromberger, Knight Ridder Digital’s product manager of channel initiatives.

RSS feeds

There's a wealth of information on the Web that you can subscribe to using RSS feeds. Here’s how.

1. You need an RSS reader of some sort. One popular option is to use a Web-based reader. These services live on the Internet, so you can access your RSS subscriptions anywhere you have access to a computer. Two examples, both free, are Bloglines ( and Yahoo’s My Yahoo service. Each requires you to create an account.

2. Both services can usually locate the RSS feeds automatically. In Bloglines, if you have a news site or blog that you want to subscribe to, click “add”' in the My Feeds section. Enter the Web address of the site (, for example). Bloglines will search for the RSS feed and take you through the steps to subscribe. Once new content is added to the site, headlines and/or text will show up in your account.

3. In MyYahoo, click the “Add content” link. You’ll have a chance to search for content to add to your personalized news page. Or you can enter a specific Web address and Yahoo will find its feed and subscribe to it for you.

“I see RSS as another distribution channel,” Bromberger said. “It’s about the individual consumer’s consumption habits. We can’t assume everyone wants to come to our Web sites and read them in a traditional way. We want to recognize that and give them content in a variety of formats.’’

Newspapers are using RSS to push news headlines, columns and blog and audio content out to their readers.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. An entire industry and technological ecosystem is developing around RSS, heralding a future where weather updates, corporate sales data, music playlists, calendar appointments, office memos, photos, video and more all flow into our computers and mobile devices automatically.

Today, government Web sites, search engines and classified ads sites such as craigslist all offer RSS feeds. Yahoo is one of the largest – it publishes hundreds on its news Web pages. (To find feeds, look for the tiny, orange icons that say “XML’’ or “RSS.’’)

Knight Ridder’s newspapers started offering RSS in April. Users can subscribe to feeds about their local sports teams, national and local news, or make sure they never miss the witty musings of their favorite columnists.

The San Jose Mercury News offers more than 100 RSS feeds, for everything from community news and business columnists to books and garage sales.
See them here >> More

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