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Dean's Digital World

Finding News You Can Use From Canada
or Around the World on the Internet

By Dean Tudor

Dean Tudor

Studies have shown that people generally remember

10% of what they read;
20% of what they hear;
30% of what they see;
50% of what they hear and see;
70% of what they say; and
90% of what they say as they do a thing.

This indicates that the best you can expect to do for a passive or regular learner is fifty percent - which can be achieved with multimedia.

The Internet, even "reading" E-mail with no graphics, is elemental multimedia. It consumes a lot of attention, and we "hear" and "see" what is on the screen. There is a lot here that can be remembered!

To a news junkie like me, the Internet has been a boon - it has been such a great source of information/news. It's both current and archival. I've been able to stay up with the news and catch up with the news. Of course, most of this has been in a textual mode (I don't have graphics nor do I have any audio programming): I just get print stuff or transcripts through the Internet. I also have access to NEXIS (but one has to pay for that) and various CD-ROMs (which require loading), but these are not the same thing as just pushing a few keys or opening up an E-mail package crammed with news reports.

And they are still all "multimedia" attention-driven devices.

There are three basic ways to get or catch up with the news.

One is "current": news as it happens...For that, you must go out and cast your net through any number of sites.

For direct news of Canada, you could try Bell's Sympatico for "National News", mainly from the Canadian Press. It is starting up a NewsExpress project, to deliver the news to you more efficiently <http://www1.sympatico.ca/news/news.html>. There is also Business, Sports, Weather, Health, Entertainment, and the like, including regional reports.

Or the monster CANOE site from SunMedia (CANadian Online Explorer is the origin of the acronym), which not only has CP copy <http://canoe2.canoe.ca/NewsNewswires/canadaticker.html> but also a wide-range of regional stories for the Atlantic Provinces, Ontario and Quebec <http://canoe2.canoe.ca/OntQueTicker/home.html>, and the West - as well as all the Sun papers for local stories. There are sections just like the Sympatico service, including special material for the under 30 crowd.

Fresh radio headlines come from the CBC <http://www.radio.cbc.ca/radio/programs/news/headline-news/>, and if you have RealAudio installed you can even get the actual voice. Otherwise, just the text seems good enough for me.

Not so new news from Canada is available through Infomart's Front Page Stories <http://www.infomart.ca/todays_news/index.html>, a collection of items appearing on the current front pages of Southam papers.

Reuters wires are available from Yahoo <http://www.yahoo.com/text/headlines/ news/summary.html> with links to the full stories, and updated hourly. Yahoo also has this same for various newspapers around the world <http://headlines.yahoo.com/Full_Coverage/>, entitled Yahoo's Full Coverage of News. Click on any story and you'll get a collection of stories sorted by News, Magazines & Feature Articles, Editorials, Related Web Sites, Live Coverage, Message Boards and Chats, Press Releases and Multimedia Coverage. There's more of this at the main Yahoo site for the day <http://www.yahoo.com/picks/ daily/> which has a terrific collection of links that are active on the Internet for that day: chats, interviews, reports being released, etc.

AP wires come from a number of places; you can make connections with the newspapers themselves through <http://wire.ap.org>. Or, try visiting my favourite AP source in New Jersey <http://wire.nj.com> called the NewsFlash. Leave it on your screen all the time and it will constantly update you every minute!!

Every Internet news outlet, whether newspaper or magazine or broadcast, has some news content on its site. You can find them from all over the world through AJR/Newslink <http://www.newslink.org>.

Even easier, you can go to sites with pre-selected news sources, ones that will do a search for you, based on your keywords. And you can register your searches so that your strategy is kept on that site: you just sign in and tell it to search away for new stuff on your pre-selected themes...

InfoSeek has its "Top News Sources" <http://www.infoseek.com/news/> of Reuters, PR Newswire, Business Wire, Chicago Tribune, CNN transcripts, MSNBC transcripts, LA Times, NY Times, USA Today, and the Washington Post.

NewsIndex <http://www.newsindex.com> is a searchable index from over 250 international news sources, and this includes ALL of the major ones. It is "live" every two hours or so, and it constantly refreshes itself.

SelectWare has a number of sites for resources, dividing up the world into North America (Canada, United States and Mexico) <http://www.select-ware.com/ news/nam.html>, Europe <http://www.select-ware.com/news/eur.html>, and Rest of the World <http://www.select-ware.com/news/row.html>. These URLs will put you in touch with some of the most obscure but regionally important publications from around the world.

NewsBot <http://www.wired.com/newbot> searches for news in a unique way: you can tell it how recent you want the stories to be (those posted in the past 6 hours, 12, 24, 48, 4 days, 7 days).

NewsHub <http://www.newshub.com> is a lot like NewsFlash, except the stories come from diverse sources and the screen refreshes itself every 15 minutes. All of the stories are then archived by time period up through yesterday's news. This means that you can conveniently follow a storyline back to the (relative) beginning.

NewsTracker <http://nt.excite.com> will group by relevancy, by date, and by publication (and then relevancy).

NewsWorks <http://www.newsworks.com> will search the Web sites of about 150 American papers for current stories.

TotalNEWS from CNN <http://www.totalnews.com> will do the same, but internationally, for over 1,400 news sites, including many broadcasting ones. It is updated four times a day.

There's enough here to keep any newsjunkie occupied all day long, without even going over to the local newspaper or broadcast site! BUT if you've missed something (say you've been sick, called out of town, too busy, or have to do deep research in an unknown area), then you'll need the ARCHIVE!!

The second way to find news on the Internet is through the "archive". Most of the above sites have some material from the recent past. This is mostly 24 hours worth, sometimes three days. Some papers keep their stuff a week or more. But which ones?

Because storage is variable, you might want to go to an archival link site, in order to determine what exactly IS available online. Be aware that not too much from the deep past will be out there, especially on a "no charge" basis. Storage space on a hard drive costs money, and there is low demand for the past. Studies have shown that 90% of journalists' needs can be met with material published within the past six months. Anything older might just demand a premium for storage costs, and you might be better off using NEXIS, and paying for the older article, instead of trying to scrounge around (and wasting time) to get it for "free".

Some archive sites that have impressed me include NewsHunt <http://www. newshunt.com> which has links to about 75 free archive sites on the Internet. All of these linked sites have materials that are more than seven days old. You just simply locate a publication you want to search, and then enter your search terms.

Another is Small Hours/News Archives <http://www.aa.net/~rclark/archives.html> which has links to many newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and broadcast sites (both transcripts and video).

But the best overall site is the unique one put together by the Special Libraries Association's News Division (most members are news researchers or news librarians with media companies). It's at <http://sunsite.unc.edu/slanews/internet/archives.html> and it is a geographic listing in chart form with links to the archives from mostly American newspapers. SLA is working on other English-language papers from around the world. Not everything here is "free": the chart indicates pricing policies and the dates of each archive. Most costs are nominal, but they are a nuisance to pay because accounts must be established, pre-payment rendered, and the end result may be just a printed photocopy. NEXIS just may be more convenient. There's nothing much here for Canada, although you can certainly get Canadian news from an American source.

The third way to get "news you can use" is through "push" technology, where you can set up an account (usually free or nominal), enter your major search or keywords, and then sit back and wait for the material to arrive in your Web browserowser or by E-mail. This is normally called The Daily Me, since you alone determine what the news will be. All of your interests can be catered to, through keywords. And you will receive news as it happens, and as it pertains to your search. If all you want is news from the world of wine, then you will get a package each time with that kind of material. Or Toronto Blue Jays, or automobiles (specify a model?), or the little town you grew up in.

To begin with The Daily Me, visit <http://www.bnet.att.com/news/dailyme.htm> and read the commentaries and do the links. Be aware, though, that while the material may be free, it is only free because the company sends you advertising. (Remember, they have your E-mail address...)

One of the most prominent sources is Pointcast Canada <http://www.pointcast. ca> which already has over 100,000 subscribers in Canada. You'll need to download free software to your hard drive, and then install it. You'll need to do this with several of the "push" sources, for the "push" data has to go somewhere! Some sources also use Adobe Acrobat, for printing purposes.

Pointcast uses stories from the Globe and Mail (they are a partner) and MSNBC. Topics include news and sports, along with lifestyles and, of course, business. You get to tell them what you want to read.

Another is Personal Pathfinder <http://pathfinder.com/promo/> from the Time-Warner people. There is also Personal NewsPage <http://pnp.individual.com/> and InfoSeek <http://personal.infoseek.com/> as well as My Newspage <http://www. newspage.com/myissue/ and InfoBeat <http://www.infobeat.com>. One of the earliest ones was CRaYON (CReate Your Own Newspaper) at <http://crayon.net>. They compete with each other, for your money spent on buying whatever the adverts have to sell. They've got your E-mail address too...

And if all this is not enough, there is a fourth way: some news about the FUTURE! You could try NewsAhead <http://www.newsahead.com/> which is actually a daybook site. It is arranged by region, such as the Middle East or Southern Europe, and by clicking on those buttons you can get to an annotated listing of upcoming state visits (or any important visit), elections, reports to be issued, special days - almost anything known to occur and that could be the subject of a press conference. Dates and locations are announced, and there is a quick search button to allow you to get the next few weeks from anywhere in the world.

Another one is the Public Diplomacy Calendar from USIA <http://www.usia.gov/products/calendar/calendar.htm> which also has material of the future.

Other friendly news sites, especialy subject-specific to such areas as the environment, business, sports, weather, politics, court decisions, entertainment, can be found at MegaSources <http://www.ryerson.ca/journal/mega21.htm>

Dean Tudor is Sources Informatics consultant and a professor of Journalism and Information Studies at Ryerson University. He can be reached at dtudor@acs.ryerson.ca.

Originally published in Sources, Number 41, Winter 1998.

See:  Other Dean's Digital World Articles


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