Without fanfare the Government of Canada has surprised many media watchers with its rollout of a mature syndicated news portal. The portal or Government of Canada Newsroom provides its citizens up-to-the-minute Web access to government news releases and media advisories. In this Phase II of the project, news is being syndicated via 35 RSS channels from more than 40 contributing organizations.
Content is aggregated on-site for reading into newsrooms organized by audience and regional news. There are corresponding RSS 0.91 channels for national news, regional news, provincial news, and news by audience. No other national government has undertaken such a holistic and well-developed plan.
A core foundation of the Newsroom is the use of metadata and controlled vocabularies. These are maintained by the National Library and Archives and allow content to populate the five main news types under citizen centric views by "audience" and "region."
The types (news release, media advisory, speech, report, and warnings/advisories) are defined in the dc.type controlled vocabulary. Audiences (aboriginal, seniors, veterans, etc) are defined in the dc.audience element. Regions (provinces and territories) are defined by the dc.coverage.spatial controlled vocabulary. Core Subject Thesaurus terms and subject categories along with the vocabularies associated with the metadata elements allow precisely targeted searches.
Agencies supplying news use an online form with fields that allow them to identify the source URL and associate the desired metadata. Submissions are stored in a database and then extracted and transformed in the XML transformation engine into RSS feeds.
The Newsroom is being developed under the direction of Robert D. Oates, Project Management Officer with Communication Canada.
A faceted advanced search provides full access to the news archives. Off-hand, my only suggestion would be to substitute RSS 1.0 versions of the feed so that external aggregators could take full advantage of the Dublic Core metadata as well.
We congratulate Communication Canada on a job well done and extend our appreciation to Stephen Downes, of the National Research Council Canada and prolific inventor of RSS technologies, and Todd Sieling for the alert.
Read more: Newsroom Fact Sheet | Canadian Metadata Forum news.gc.ca | Canadian Metadata Forum - Summary (Stephen's Web) | Site TinyURL (via ResearchBuzz) | Government Uses for RSS (BlogsCanada) | Scripting News (Dave Winer notes the 0.91 feeds use features only available in 2.0)