John Wood of the TUC writes:
The TUC now has a simple aggregator for union press releases at www.unionnewswire.org.uk. It’s very much in beta (meaning it’s likely to fall over at a moment’s notice), but could be a useful tool to save LabourStart correspondents interested in the UK a little time in searching round union sites.
It uses a service called Dapper.net to make RSS feeds for sites that don’t have them yet, and a modified implementation of WordPress.org to automatically bring together 19 feeds in one place, and output a common listing as a web page, RSS feed, Twitter feed or email alerts (daily digest), so you can get the news in the format you like.
Unfortunately this is still only a very partial picture. A couple of unions in the UK display their press releases in formats that a scraper can’t understand, so can’t be syndicated, and almost half the UK’s unions (mostly the smaller unions who may not be so active in media work) don’t publish press releases on their sites at all.
For interested nerds, the whole thing is built in the open source CMS WordPress, using the excellent Feedwordpress plugin. Some unions that publish their press releases online but not yet by RSS are also included, thanks to the RSS scraping service open.dapper.net. Feeds that don’t quite fit are modified in Feedburner.com and/or Yahoo Pipes. Twitterfeed.com takes the combined RSS feed and publishes it onto www.twitter.com/unionnewswire
As all these tools are free or open source, the service only costs the price of a domain name and a shared hosting account to run (around £20 a year). I think aggregators may become useful tools for unions, helping us to share information around the movement for little cost, or to build instant portals with new views of a topic out of different types of information source – providing a useful service and a natural meeting point for people with any given interest, all under the banner of the union.