Using RSS to track the politicians you cover

Megan Taylor, an online journalism student at the University of Florida*, has been reviewing RSS feeds from newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post this week.

She points out a feature I hadn’t seen yet in the Post’s Congressional voting database: RSS feeds on every member of Congress full of their votes. (Thanks Adrian!)

Here’s the page for Sam Farr, our local representative in the House. Look for the orange XML button.
Aside from how slick it is that this database pulls from existing and frequently updated information (I’m guessing from somewhere in the bowels of thomas.gov), think about how easy this can make a political reporter’s job.

Subscribe to feeds of every member of Congress in your circulation area, and maybe put these feeds on a Netvibes-style homepage, so you can see all the headlines at once, compare votes easily, and move things around as necessary depending on the stories you’re covering.

Now you’ve got all their votes in one place and you know when they weren’t around to vote, what they skipped, and what the overall tallies were compared to how they voted.

Could be an easy way to get ahead of the press release / e-mail blast cycle by seeing the vote first, getting a source on the phone, and you’re on your way.

*Gators suck. Go ‘Canes!

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