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Dean's Digital World - Sources 40

By Dean Tudor

Dean Tudor

The proliferation of Canadian World Wide Web sites continues, and with great changes to come in Canadian politics and welfare, education, and health strategies, it might be nice to pause and just see what exactly there is out there - of value to Canadian journalists. All links were working as of May 1, 1997, but I'd estimate that by the time you read this, about 7% will be changed or defunct. On the other hand, there might be new or additional sites, probably at about 10% of the following list.

I love indexes and directories: they are the true keepers and organizers of the printed/electronic word. Libraries and publishers lead the way for contact data (names and numbers, phones, faxes, E-mail addresses, etc.).

Hey - take Sources as an example!!
https://www.sources.com (for your directory-listing of Canadian experts based on Sources the book). Also useful are:
/pnnmenu.htm (for Canadian Parliamentary Names and Numbers, a sister publication from Sources that outlines who's who on Parliament hill, committee assignments, etc.)
http://www.connexions.org (for Connexions Online, a directory of Canadian organizations that are alternatives to corporations (social welfare, education, self-help groups).

So from these organized lists of contacts, we can move further on to the general numbers for Canadians:
http://canada411.sympatico.ca (Canada411 for free Bell Canada directory assistance).
http://www.physics.mcmaster.ca/CanUniv.html (a collection of online Canadian university phonebooks, most with E-mail addresses, to enable you to contact any university professor or department)

You can find other Canadian phone books at:
http://emporium.turnpike.net/C/cmp/cod (Canada Online Directory);
http://www.canadas.net/White-Pages/ (Canadian E-Mail White Pages);
http://www.contractjobs.com/tel/canada.htm (which contains many business fax numbers).

Canadian journalists can seek a variety of answers to any questions through the library structures. There's a new Canadian Library Index (http://www.lights.com/canlib/) which provides an index to the home pages of all Canadian libraries on the Web. As well, there are actual connections to library services and catalogues through telnet (Hytelnet) and webCATS... at least for all those libraries with Internet-based OPACs (Online Publicly Accessible Catalogues). Both public and academic libraries are included, as well as some government and commercial special libraries.

Through the libraries, journalists can find book references, periodical articles (or references), searching advice, and links to other resources on the Internet, particularly that hard to find Canadian resource.

One good example of what libraries are doing is ANSWERLINE from the Metro Toronto Reference Library (http://www.mtrl.toronto.on.ca/centres/answer/form/home.html). This page has a form in which you can pose any question under (or over) the sun, whether Toronto-based, Canadian or international -- it doesn't matter. MTRL will attempt to find the answer for you, within a 24-hour period. It's not as fast as calling the local phone number (where the turnaround time is supposed to be five minutes), but if you live in St. John's or Victoria, then you save a long distance and a time-disoriented call. If you can wait a day for answers, and like sending E-mail at 3 am, this is the route. And more and more local libraries are beginning to offer this service, such as the Boston Public Library.

Another service from libraries is ratings and filtering of the content of World Wide Web resources, almost guaranteeing the authenticity of the information.

One example (http://www.shepherd.com = shepherding, get it? ) is a project to rate Canadian Internet documents for "educational" content, and it is being undertaken by Canadian teachers and librarians.

Another one (http://www.schoolnet.ca/collections/) provides over 100 collections from the holdings of Canadian archives, libraries, museums, associations, businesses, labour unions and other organizations. Browsing is alphabetical or by subject...

Other libraries with massive gateways to Canadian socio-economic, political, cultural, and technological sites include:
http://library.utoronto.ca/www/subjects.html (UTLink at University of Toronto);
http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/ehome.htm (National Library of Canada).

For quick reference answers from almanacs, encyclopedia, directories, guides, dictionaries, handbooks, try: http://www.library.utoronto.ca/www/quickref.html;
http://www.statcan.ca/Documents/English/Faq/Glance/glance.htm (which is Statistics Canada's quick guide to Canada); http://www.canadainfo/canada.html (Canadian Almanac).

Most academic libraries will let Canadian journalists explore their World Wide Web sites, but to derive maximum value, you should really be a student (take a part-time course in computers or spreadsheets, and get an E-mail account).

Students have access to NEXIS, sometimes to InfoMart, many CD-ROMs, Canadian Business and Current Affairs, and CANSIM from Statistics Canada. The Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) has been setup by academic librarians wishing to get access to government materials at low costs, in the name of research. Proper students can have access to these materials: just don't sell the data to business!!!

But if you don't have access to a university account, you can still try CARL UnCover (http://wdev.carl.org/cgi-bin/unCover/). UnCover will freely divulge the tables of contents of thousands of magazines, including most of Canada's scholarly and trade publications. You'll get references to scores of articles, going back beyond 1980 (if you need them). CARL offers this service for nothing because they want you to order the article from them. Instead, you can check the reference at a library or in some other electronic database.

If you need Canadian publications which only exist in electronic format (annual report of the Commissioner of Official Languages, Bank of Canada monetary policy reports, or Analytical Studies Branch Research papers from Statistics Canada), then you'll have to visit the National Library's electronic collection where these are archived. The Canadian federal government and some of the provinces are discontinuing paper versions of documents, putting up e-text versions on World Wide Web sites. But eventually these are pulled down. The National Library is trying to ensure that they'll stay available at: http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/e-coll-e/index-e.htm.

What about local data? Say you're in Ottawa, working on a story/idea based in Victoria. Check out (a) the local Victoria public library which may have a World Wide Web site and (b) Victoria Free-Net. Free-Nets are crawling with local contacts, listings, archives, documents, travel, sports results, etc. You can get to a listing of Free-Nets all over the world through: http://duke.usask.ca/~scottp/free.html.

News? Suppose you want to be on the cutting edge of news as it happens?

The best place I've seen for quick Canadian news (principally from CP) is at the Canoe site (Toronto Sun and BCE-owned): http://canoe2.canoe.ca/NewsNewswires/canadaticker.html.

Another source is CBC Radio News (text only, not RealAudio) found at http://www.radio.cbc.ca/radio/programs/news/headline-news. This is updated after each hourly broadcast, and it has archives.

For Today on Parliament Hill, try http://www.informetrica.com/publinet. This will give you status accounts of the bills, committee hearings, question period, etc. Plus gateways to other Parliamentary sites.

For Statistics Canada, there is normally a charge to access data. But you can get the Daily at http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/today/daily.htm.

News about the environment can be found at Environment Canada's Green Lane (http://www.ec.gc.ca), while news about the Canadian government in general can be located through InfoCanada (http://www.infocan.gc.ca/).

Newspapers are easy to access, and are especially good for local news. But remember, while fresh news is commonly available, older news has been archived and the newspapers want to sell this stuff.

For the Southam papers, try http://www.southam.ca. This will connect you with the Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Hamilton Spectator, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Windsor Star, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province.

The Sun papers are at http://www.canoe.ca (including the Financial Post). The Globe and Mail is http://www.globeandmail.ca and the Toronto Star is http://www.thestar.com while the Halifax Daily News is http://www.hfxnews.com.

Not really news anymore: the front pages of all the Southam papers are at http://www.infomart.ca/todays_news/index.html. Other newspapers can be accessed off http://www.mediainfo.com/edpub/e-papers.canada.html.
For Canadian broadcasting, try TVNet Canada (http://tvnet.com/tv/ca/ca.html). This would connect you to all television networks/stations in Canada with World Wide Web sites. CBC Radio and Television is through http://www.cbc.ca/index.html and CBC Newsworld is http://www.newsworld.cbc.ca.

Maclean-Hunter magazines can be found through CANOE (Canadian Online Explorer), such as http://www.canoe.ca/macleans, and the two leading alternatives are at http://www.web.apc.org/~thismag and http://www.canadiandimension.mb.ca/cd/index.htm. It's a shame that the Canadian Forum is not hooked up (as of this writing)....

More magazines and newspapers can be found through:
http://www.sentex.net/~ccna (Canadian Community Newspapers Association),
http://fox.nstn.ca:80/~bcantley/cdna.html (Canadian Newspaper Association), http://www.cmpa.ca/maghome.html (Canadian Magazine Publishers Association).

If you need some technical help and moral support in your writing, then try http://eagle.ca/caj (Canadian Association of Journalists),
http://www.cycor.ca/PWAC (Periodical Writers Association of Canada), http://www.web.net/eac-acr (Editors' Association of Canada).

Humber College has some good writing advice.... Try http://www.humberc.on.ca/~coleman/cw-ref.html or the writers guide at University of Victoria (http://webserver.maclab.comp.uvic.ca/writersguide/StartHere.html), although writing advice tends to be generic everywhere, and not just specific to Canada.

I'm saving the best for the last - the monster "beat gateways" I call them, just loaded with Canadian information. One of the best is Montrealer Julian Sher's Investigative Journalism for Canadians site (http://www.vir.com/~sher/canada.htm).

Here are listed all Canadian federal and provincial sites for journalists, including a lot of stuff in French. URLs include searching the federal government sites, the Champlain Explorer, E-mailing MPs, faxing MPs, lots of detail on provincial World Wide Web site locations, with pointers to elsewhere. You can also, of course, visit his bigger site at http://www.vir.com/~sher/julian.html.

Another equally good gateway is WWW Resources for CBC Journalists, compiled by Hal Doran of Ottawa at http://www.synapse.net/~radio/welcome.html. It has much the same material, arranged differently.

The Toronto Sun Library through Julie Kishhas has many gateways to Canadian resources for journalists; indeed, it is the only Canadian media library I know of with such data out on the World Wide Web (please correct me, somebody??!!). She's at http://www.canoe.ca/Sunlib.

There's my own Megasources at http://www.ryerson.ca/~journal/megasources.html, which has about 999 gateways to other gateways, indexing the whole universe (as he modestly puts it). It's arranged by category (massive data to small).

If you're concerned about Canadian government information on the Internet, then look no further than Anita Cannon's marvelous site at http://www.lib.uwaterloo.ca/discipline/Government/CanGuide, although she herself is now at Mount Alison. She has gateways to Aboriginal People, Access to Information Act, International Affairs, Policing, Privacy, Social Security, Statistics, Taxation, and dozens more connected with government. And she has a similar arrangement for the provincial World Wide Web sites and the municipal World Wide Web sites. Many other beat gateways and the Federal government itself have good indexes to the national government sites; Cannon's strength lies in her gateways to municipalities AND her follow-up lists of government catalogues. A tremendous accomplishment!!

Canadian government databases, and a few private ones too, can be accessed or located through RICARC (Ryerson Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting In Canada) at http://www.ryerson.ca/~ricarc.

For more broad materials dealing with Canada, you'll certainly have to check out Stuart Clamen's Canadian Resource Page found at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/user/
clamen/mics/Canadiana/README.html. It goes on forever, such a huge file with sections dealing with Facts and Figures (handbook data), Travel, Government, History, News, Weather, Sports, Media, Employment, plus all the relevant newsgroups.

Finally, for general searching with Canadian topics or themes, you'll want to try the search engine at Yahoo, which is hierarchically arranged. This allows for drilling through the menu structure. But you don't begin with Yahoo. Canoe (SunMedia) has a deal for a Canadian Yahoo, found at: http://www.yahoo.ca (Yahoo! Canada). If you use this one, then you'll be limited to subjects covered at Canadian sites. A great way to weed out the millions of files out there, ones that have no relevance for Canadian topics. But you'll have to watch the URLs - they can be pretty big. The one for searching Toronto World Wide Web sites is http://www.yahoo.ca/text/Regional/Countries/Canada/Provinces_and_Territories/
. This one you'll probably want to bookmark, never to re-type again!

Another general Canadian search engine is Maple Square, which has been bought by Sympatico (owned by Bell). Now, since BCE (owned by Bell) also owns part of Yahoo! Canada, can a merger be in the books? Meanwhile, try this http://maplesquare.sympatico.ca.

All World Wide Web browsers support Usenet postings, so it is only a matter of whether your Internet Service Supplier has access to Usenet. If it does, then you could check out the following discussion groups, read and leave messages, picking up contacts and advice and new resources:

Also, there are geographically arranged groups, such as the can.* series, the ont.* series, thetor.* series, eg,

My favourite sites are the following six: these will get you anything and everything to do with Canada -
SOURCES SELECT Online - https://www.sources.com.
Megasources - http://www.ryerson.ca/~journal/megasources.html.
Sher - http://www.vir.com/~sher/julian.html.
Clemans - http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/user/clamen/mics/Canadiana/
Cannon - http://www.lib.uwaterloo.ca/discipline/Government/CanGuide.
Canadian Library Index - http://www.lights.com/canlib/.

Dean Tudor is Informatics Consultant to Sources and teaches Journalism and Information Studies at Ryerson Polytechnic University. He can be reached at dtudor@acs.ryerson.ca.

Published in Sources, Number 40, Summer 1997 .

See:  Other Dean's Digital World Articles


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