A key responsibility of the working actor is knowing what’s going on in the business, and there are plenty of trade magazines and industry sites aimed at keeping you informed of current events. Unlike the old days when Backstage West and Drama-logue were weekly staples that kept you busy enough, thank you very much, it’ll take more than a morning cup of joe to wade through all the information out there now, with news sites and industry blogs updating by the second. Essential information can become lost between celebrity gossip, beauty tips and movie reviews, and when you refill your coffee cup for the second time, you still haven’t even scratched the surface - and that's without wading through casting notices.
One time saving solution is to utilize the RSS feed on entertainment industry websites. If you don’t already know what this is, you’ve probably seen the orange logo with the dot and two waves near the links for Facebook and Twitter on your favorite blogs. RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, or in its slang version, Really Simple Syndication, and is a specific way of formatting information on frequently updated websites. By adding the unique RSS feed address of your favorite blog, news site or online magazine to what's called an RSS reader, Voila! your very own personalized news feed is now at your fingertips.
An RSS reader puts all of the information from your favorite sites (Hollywood Reporter, Variety, IMDB Pro, etc.) into one place, showing only the title and a few sentences from the beginning of each article. This allows you to scan through the material quickly, reading only the articles that stand out to you. Some RSS readers, also called news aggregators, even allow you to save or ‘bookmark’ subjects for reviewing later. Depending on the RSS reader you choose, you can modify the layout, create subject hierarchies, even alter the color scheme, until it seems the internet has been fashioned with you and your busy actor schedule in mind.
My RSS reader of choice is currently Feedly, which has great apps for the desktop, iPad and iPhone, and syncs what you've read between them. It’s straightforward to use, allows saving and sharing, and has a great ‘mark as read’ feature. Here's a list of other RSS readers that are out there. Now you can go back to enjoying that cup of coffee.