It's smart for newspapers such as the Tribune Co.'s LA Times, the Denver Post and the UK's Guardian to set up branded RSS readers that allow their content to be read/received along with other news sources.
However, the strategy is essentially defensive, given that newspaper sites are in danger of being marginalized over time by news aggregators such as Yahoo! News, Google News and other RSS/newsreaders (e.g., Bloglines).
There's an issue of competing in a whole new realm, of course. In other words, which newsreader do consumers adopt (MyYahoo!, Bloglines, Feedster, the Denver Post's News Hound, etc.) — 'cause they ain't gonna use more than one (maybe two). And there's something of a danger that newspapers dilute their own brands in offering a newsreader that becomes the destination instead. But it's a direction they're almost compelled to go.
This strategy also creates opportunity. RSS feeds are powerful as the basis for a high-value consumer alert system for classified advertising (Craigslist and other job sites have it). Rather than visiting sites daily, I want relevant content and listings pushed to me:
- 2004 Nissan Altima under $18,000
- Houses in Berkeley between $425,000 and $500,000
- Software sales jobs in Sunnyvale
This kind of functionality already exists and is going to become a bigger and bigger part of search and the online consumer experience in general. Over time, many sites will offer consumers the abiliity to fill out a set of fields or check boxes or post a search query and be able to get a regular feed with the desired information pushed to them (approaches "one-to-one" marketing).
Better to get out in front of the curve than fall behind it.