How to create a Facebook news feed for a journalist (or anything else)

James Ball articles Facebook page

I’ve been enjoying The Independent’s individual Facebook feeds for journalists, football teams and other ‘entities’ of their news coverage. So much so that I wanted the work of journalists on other news organisations to be brought to me in the same way.

But other newspapers are not offering the same functionality, so I thought I’d do it myself. Here’s how you can do it too:

Create a Facebook page for the journalist

Go to the Facebook Pages page and click ‘Create Page‘ in the upper right corner.

You then need to choose one of 6 categories. Pick ‘Artist, band or public figure‘ and choose ‘Journalist‘ from the drop-down menu that then appears. Type their name in the next box, and tick the box agreeing to the terms. Then click ‘Get started‘.

You’ll now be presented with your page. You can add an image and make various other customisations. But the main thing we need to do is to set it up so that the page automatically publishes updates whenever the journalist publishes a new article.

Install an RSS app on that page

Click ‘Edit page‘ in the upper right corner of the page. On the left hand side of the page you are taken to will be a series of further options. Click on ‘Apps‘.

At the bottom of the Apps page is an option to ‘Browse more applications‘. Click on this to get to the Apps Directory.

You now need to find an app which will publish an RSS feed to the wall of your Page. Instead of browsing use the search box to look for ‘RSS’.

There’ll be a number of possibilities on the results page. I used RSS Graffiti.

Do not click on ‘Go to app’ – instead, in the left hand column should be an option to ‘Add to my page’. Click on this, and select your page from the list that then appears. The app should now be added to your page – but you will still need to customise the settings.

Find the RSS feed for your journalist – or create one

Some news organisations provide individual RSS feeds for every journalist – try looking on the journalist’s profile page (if they have one) or one of their articles to see if you can find a feed (also look for an orange RSS icon in the address bar).

If that isn’t the case, try Journalisted, which has RSS feeds for most journalists on national newspapers and broadcasters.

And if they’re not featured there, you could try using Google News to generate an RSS feed for you (do the search first then look for the RSS feed at the bottom of the page), or even use Yahoo! Pipes to filter articles by a particular journalist from a general news feed (that’s another tutorial to write).

Edit the page’s RSS app settings

Once you’ve got your RSS feed, copy the address (it will look something like http://journalisted.com/dominic-casciani/rss or http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/jamesball/rss).

Then go to your application page (either by going back to the Facebook Page you created, clicking on ‘Edit Page’, then ‘Apps’ and then ‘Go to application’ under the appropriate one – or by finding the application page again via the Apps Directory).

On the left hand side it will say which of your Facebook pages it has been activated on. Click on the one you need to edit it for – in the case of RSS Graffiti it will say Action required: Assign missing permissions. Click to activate it, and then ‘Allow‘ to give it permission to post to the page’s wall.

You’ll be taken back to the app where you can now add the RSS feed you want to publish to this page. In RSS Graffiti’s case click ‘Add feed‘.

You can now paste the URL of the RSS feed into the appropriate box, and give it a name if you want. Then click ‘Save

Go live

Now, back on your page click ‘Publish this page’. And don’t forget to ‘Like‘ it so you receive updates from it in your Facebook news feed.

Of course this will work for anything with an RSS feed – not just journalists. Here’s the Facebook page for the Online Journalism Blog, for example.

PS: A note of caution – Facebook’s terms say you cannot create a page for a person unless you represent them, so they could take the page down. Equally, the journalist could object themselves – ask them if they mind first.

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