by Jan Zauha
News access on the Web has blossomed in the past decade, moving out of the realm of the
tech-head and into the everyday habits of Jane Web Surfer faster than a dancing digital hamster.
Today's information seeker would be seriously challenged to miss the news on the Web, the
options have proliferated so much. Whether you want to read traditional "newspapers," locate
obscure local publications, sample headlines from around the world, or read only the very
best online journalism, the Web's the place.
The early days of Internet news were dominated by ClariNet that began delivering subscription access to "all the news before it's printed" in 1989 with
its ClariNews service, a continuing option for the serious news consumer today. High-profile
newspapers such as the New York Times have since launched
free alternatives to ClariNews. Similarly, the rise of smaller local and international
newspaper sites, as indexed by OnlineNewspapers.com,
has made news from almost anywhere accessible from your computer. Not all these sites offer
the same level of online content as in their print editions, however, so the reader should be
prepared for differences and potential frustration.
Broadcast news is also abundantly evident on the Web. Sites like ABC and CNN deliver interactive and multi-media options that
would have overwhelmed the television news consumer of even a decade ago. Equipment and network
connections, needless to say, determine just how preferable you find these sites to simply
switching on the tube.
News convenience has been greatly enhanced by clearinghouses such as Yahoo News, gleaners of headlines from around the globe. These same sites have also made it
easy to get a personalized, international perspective through customized access. Crayon, one of the first customizable news services, has offered personal news tailoring
since 1995 with an impressive and lengthy roster of publications from which to choose. My Yahoo also provides news customization as one of its many
personal service options, although with significantly fewer publication choices.
But what about finding great news on the Web? Not the kind of news that makes you think the
world is a wonderful place after all, but the kind that marries story, form, and technology
to prove that "Web content" is not an oxymoron? At its best, online journalism has matured
into a serious branch of news reporting, a genre that doesn't just mimic its print or television
ancestors, but takes full advantage of the online environment. One sure avenue to locating
publications that produce the best online journalism is through award sites. The Online News
Association's yearly Online Journalism Awards give recognition to writers and publications across 15 categories,
focusing on English-language Web sites around the world. The European Online Journalism Awards
(from NetMedia are open to all European
journalists and media. Links to the winners and semi-finalists on both these sites help identify
where the most exciting and informative online journalism is being produced.
For help locating more news options, in print or online, call or stop in at the Renne Library
reference desk. If you find Web sites that you think might be of interest to the MSU community,
please send me an e-mail message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan Zauha is the reference team leader at the MSU Libraries.