It’s been a year since we launched news.ca.gov, and it has proven to be valuable tool. Already, more than 5,000 people use it each month to catch up on California news.

The news site, which was launched in July 2010 as a part of the award-winning CA.gov State portal, aggregates real-time news and social media from across state government into a central page. More than 200 news feeds, Twitter feeds, and YouTube channels continuously populate the site with up-to-the-minute news. Clicking on topical areas such as business, education, government, health and safety, family, and visit provides users a view into new items organized by category. Users can also search for topics using the search feature. The site provides a way for people to find out what is happening in California – at a glance.

The unique part of the site is that it is constantly updated with real-time information, but it costs virtually nothing to operate or manage. As state agencies publish their news feeds, make Twitter updates, and post YouTube videos, the site is automatically updated with new content. The only time the system needs to be touched by staff is when a new feed is added or deleted.

Before the creation of this news site, there was nothing like it available in state government. Anyone looking for up-to-date news and information would have to go directly to each agency website and search for it. Now, those looking for the news can go to the news.ca.gov site and find all of the information in one place.

Since we first launched the site, there have been improvements. In January, we added the ability to search the news site and began archiving all of the Twitter, YouTube, and news feeds. Also, we added the ability to subscribe to the feeds. For example, if someone wanted to subscribe to the business news, they could subscribe and get all of the news delivered to their preferred news reader (e.g., Google Reader, FeedDemon). Once they subscribe to the feed in their own reader, they don’t even have to visit the news.ca.gov page since their own news reader will check for updates for them.

We also created a mini-news channel widget http://www.ca.gov/Multimedia/multimedia_rss.html. The dynamic widget takes all the feeds and puts them into a compact package, making it available for anyone to embed on their websites. The widget has received more than 6,300 impressions and has already been embedded on a number of different websites (including .com and .org sites). This brings more traffic to the news site and to state agency social media channels.

All state agencies are encouraged to participate in the news channel. If your agency wants to add their feeds to the site, please contact info@eservices.ca.gov.