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On the Web Web Publication Provides Some of the Best Online Journalism



Press Web 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 alijz@montana.edu.

Jan Zauha is the reference team leader at the MSU Libraries.

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