I feel fortunate that I live in a time where I can sit in front of a screen and get news from all over the world for ResearchBuzz. The fact that all the news is in English stays in the back of my mind, however. Am I missing anything from not doing non-English searches? And if I am, how could I generate the RSS feeds for non-English searches in a way that isn’t completely tedious?
If you follow me on Twitter you know I’ve been wrestling with this puzzle for the last week or so. I thought I had a good tool on Sunday, but then I woke up on Monday and realized it was inelegant, so I tore it apart and did it again.
Now the Bing News Auto-RSSinator (Spanish edition) Google Sheet is ready to share with you. It takes the query you provide, translates it into Spanish, and generates a Bing News feed for the country you specify (you can get Spanish feeds for 20 different countries and one territory (Puerto Rico.)) It also translates the feed so you can review the first five results and see if it’s worth following.
I wanted an easy way to generate and review non-English RSS news feeds, and I think this works pretty well. Best of all, the translator Google Sheet is self-contained, so you can make your own copy.
(Will there be versions for other languages? Sure, if people like this one and make a request.)
Here’s what it looks like:
Let’s walk through making your own copy and using it.
Getting Your Own Copy of the Auto-RSSinator
To get your own copy of the RSSinator, click on the URL. You’ll be prompted to save your own copy of the sheet:
Click Make a copy and Google Docs will make a copy for you and save it to your drive.
Generating a Feed
There are only two cells in the sheet that you should change. Everything else is autogenerated.
Enter a Bing News query as you normally would except I’d avoid any special syntax. I also find that using phrases is hit-and-miss because you don’t know how a phrase might be translated. I found that queries like steel manufacturing -taxes worked well, but if I got more complicated the results were spotty.
After you’ve entered a query, use the drop-down menu to choose the country from which you want the news to come. There’s also an “Everywhere” for a full news search, but results can be mixed.
After you’ve entered your query and country, the sheet will refresh with a preview of the RSS feed along with a translation. Links to the original article are included in the last column.
The sheet refreshes pretty quickly, so feel free to try lots of different searches. Machine translation is not perfect, and you may find that it takes a few searches until you’re getting the kind of results you want.
And sometimes you may not get the results you like – this is a homemade Google Sheet and things can get janky at times. Here are some potential pitfalls.
Results in English
Sometimes, especially if you search for names, you’ll get results in English that are not from that country’s media.
I’m not sure what is happening here, but it seems that if you enter a name or a word that doesn’t translate well, Bing News does some kind of default search. Sometimes these searches bring me something and sometimes they don’t, but I assume that if I do a name search something will break.
No Title in Results
Sometimes you won’t get a title in your results. There’s still a description and the link works fine, however.
No Summary in Results
Sometimes you get the title, but no summary. That’s more common. You’ll still have a link at the end of the columns.
No Results at All
Sometimes the media for a particular country is limited so much that you’ll have to do several searches to get results.
You may run into a weird result here and there, but the sheet refreshes quickly enough that you should be able to run lots of searches quickly and weed out the non-performing queries.
What Comes Next?
The RSSinator is a useful tool but I haven’t answered an important question – what happens when you find an RSS feed you like? How do you keep translating it?
Ah. That’s a different tool, one I’ll share with you Thursday barring any 2022 craziness. See you then.