Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Creating Your Own Online News Paper Part II

So you have decided, it would be nice to publish a newspaper. So how do you do it?

The process is quite simple. You go to http://www.paper.li and log in using your Twitter account. Then you click on the button that says "Start a Paper" You will get a screen that looks like this:

In the upper box you enter a title for your paper. Keep the title short but descriptive.

After that you begin to add "streams." These streams are places or keywords the program will search to find content. You can test out the keywords and hashtags by going to the twitter page and running a search on your key words. Let's take a closer look at the items you can add.

First, you can add a single user. This will essentially pull every Tweet from that User. For instance, in my Publishing News for Writers I have the user name for Publishers Weekly and Writers Digest among my streams. Of course, if you want to limit what you get, you can add a filter.

Say I'm preparing a newspaper about Egyptian Archeology. I might want to get the news from Archeology Magazine. So, I enter the Twitter User name for the magazine @archaeologymag . But I'm only interested in Egyptian archeology, so I click on the option to add a filter. I can put in either an exact phrase, or a search which contains all the words I designate, though not in that order, that has any of the words I designate or none of the words I give. Well, in the example, I put in several keywords that would appear in tweets and articles I would be interested in seeing included in the paper.

Secondly, I can choose to include myself and people I follow in the list. If I follow a lot of people who post interesting stuff about this subject, adding them to the list makes sense, but again it is good to identify some filters other wise you might have the program serve up their vacation videos or links to their kids softball scores.

I can also add a Twitter List. This would be a select list of my followers which I create on the Twitter site. So, maybe I have a list of archeology feeds from the Smithsonian, Biblical Archeology Review, National Geographic etc. I can put them all into a single list and the program searches those tweets for links to articles, videos, pictures and blogs.

Next, I can add a Twitter #tag. If you use Twitter a lot you know that hashtags (#tags) are ways you can use the twitter public search engine to find tweets on a certain subject. So I might include create a feed using #egypt or #egyptology or #pyramid

The Keywords work like the hashtags just without the hashmark. However, the words are less likely to be specific to that subject. For instance, someone might post something like Before you go to egypt check out this video. Doesn't relate to Egyptian archeology at all.

You can also search through Keywords on Facebook. Again, probably will turn up more false positives than you would like. But using a carefully defined filter it can work.

Finally, you can add an RSS feed. Many blogs, online magazines and websites have RSS feeds. One of my favorite publications, The New Scientist has a bunch of them. I could create an entire newspaper just out of their RSS feeds.

Below this section you have a few more options:

You can choose a language. You might start by leaving it set at Any Language and see if you get too many posts outside your chosen language. Since English, for good or for ill, is pretty much the Lingua Franca of the Web, you probably won't limit yourself too much by choosing it. Other languages may produce fewer stories. 
Under this there is a list of possible sections you can create for your paper. If you uncheck them all then your key words and hashtags will be used. If you leave some of the items checked then the program will automatically try to separate them into the appropriate categories with fairly good results.

Once you are finished, you click publish and the program goes to work collecting the stories for your first issue. 

Tomorrow: How to Customize and Promote Your Paper


  1. Interesting lesson. Thanks! Look forward to reading part III.

  2. Hi Terri, One question on this. Do you have to wait for the newspaper to come out before you can see what is in it or is there a way to view it before it goes live? I've tried to find a way to view it so if something needs to be omitted, I can do it before it before others.

  3. No you can't, but as soon as it comes out you get an email and they come out the same time each day. I think you can set a specific time. I'd have to check.

    Now, there is another similar program called Scoop It. http://www.scoop.it . I've been investigating it. That program collects items then you choose and arrange which ones you want in the "magazine." it creates a very pretty result. The downside is it is a bit more labor intensive and some of the promotional aspects aren't there. But when I get a bit more time, I'll probably set up a couple of Scoop.it publications as well.

  4. Thanks Terri. I haven't received an email from them to say that my newspaper has come out. Any ideas on why or have I forgotten something? I haven't heard of Scoop.it. I might check them out after I master this. LOL

  5. My first paper came out all right, but the second one said "Paper.li found no content for today's edition ... maybe tomorrow ?" Do you have to go in each day and put in the name of my paper and list the RSS feeds, twitter words and such? I thought that once you put in the name of the paper, and set up the feeds and words, it would automatically put a paper out. What am I doing wrong, or is this the way it works? Is it possible to delete the paper that has the message of no content? I am totally confused. Thank you for your help.

  6. I haven't every hit that particular problem. It may be that your #tags or rss feeds aren't producing that much copy. What Paper.li does is it does a search to find tweets that use those hashtags/keywords and have links attached to them. If your keywords are too obscure, they might just not be used enough. Here's what I did before setting up my list of keywords/hashtags. I went to Twitter.com and ran a search for them. Some didn't produce many results. So, I tried different ones that meant basically the same thing.

    You don't have to update the key words daily, but if you consistently get low results, you might change them around a bit. You might also put in the usernames for tweeters you know produce a lot of links. For instance, in my publishing paper, I specified Writer's Digest and Publisher's Weekly. In my science paper, I put in scientific american.

    I also put in the RSS feeds from specific blogs that produce a lot of content on a regular basis.

    You can delete any paper you have. I did it once, but I can't remember how. Email me at webservant2003@gmail.com and I'll look it up for you.

  7. Thanks Terri, for your help. I always enjoy reading your blogs. They are always full of great information.


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