toto article listarticle list
The Spire Project: News and News Databases
  Jump to:    
    Todays News...
    In More Detail...
    Delivered to Me
News articles are typically light and biased. There is not the time to go into great depth and background. News has an vital role in documenting current events but also proves particularly useful for locating information about individuals and businesses.

News stories are bought and sold. Your local news source does not have a reporter in Iran but rather buys the story off a newswire, then packages it in your evening news or morning newspaper. This same news is plentiful on the internet, through rarely held beyond two weeks. It is then only accessible from a state library archive or by searching the many commercial news databases.

      Todays News... 

The trouble with news is volume, not access. How do you filter something inherently unknown to a usable volume? We rely on the advice of others who filter news for a living: in newspapers, newswires and evening news. The internet does little to improve this system but much improves the next stage, gathering more detail.

      to article listStart with an International News Source

News Prospects for the Coming Week:
BBC World Service.

      to article listBrowse News Headlines
Interlope (
presents the titles of news stories most clearly
- with accurate source and prominent site lists.
Review lists of current news headlines. The best is Interlope ( 1stHeadlines ( align news story titles in a few categories, which works well if a category matches your interest. There are many news title lists and thanks to the likes of Newshub and News Network Headline Feed these lists will begin to appear on pages all over the internet.

to article list Newswires for very current news
If you don't mind the volume of news, the last consideration is to reach directly for a major international newswire. You have probably heard of:
      United Press International (UPI)
      Reuters Global News
      Agence France Presse
Associated Press (AP)
Xinhua Chinese Newswire
Voice of America
These are the largest international newswires. There are many smaller, focused newswires too. (AfricaWire, PRWire, Newsbytes, Bloomberg, ForeignWire ...) The advantage here is that newswires report most news faster than newspapers. The text to newswire stories are free online. Prominent newswires live on as commercial databases.
webpage Associated Press newswire (variously known as AP and 'the wire') is widely available through newspaper websites as listed on their site (
database The UPI and Reuters newswires are available to browse through Excite and Virtual New York respectively.
webpage Voice of America News ( has recreated itself in the .com fashion, so instead of an archive of stories, we have current top stories divided into seven regions. During the days of iron curtain detente, VoA delivered US news and propaganda to oppressed people by radio broadcast. There was always an American bias (or rather, anti-dictator bias - read their mission description). Voice of America is still with us in a wide range of unlikely languages as well as English.

      In More Detail... 

It is with seeking greater perspective and background that the internet truly excels. We need no longer accept one version or one description of news stories.

      to article listSearching Current News
News Index ( indexes a grand collection of current online news. Search with basic words like Cuba, Patent, Asteroid.

NewsBlip ( is a fine alternative.

AND is assumed ? optional - not.
The first step is simply to read news from more than one news organization. Do this with the help of a news search engine - similar to ordinary search engines but focused solely on news. There are several available including C|net News, Northern Lights News, Excite Newstracker, Yahoo News and Hotbot News Channel.

There are subtle differences, and many offer alert services (covered later) but at this time we only wish to read a few articles from different sources. There are further steps before you start re-reading the same information in different articles. We select NewsIndex and TotalNews.

      to article listRead News Prepared Locally
A delightful approach to international news is to read directly from the local press. With this in mind we have compiled a map linking to selected online newspapers.

Selected English-Language Newspapers Online
Consult our graphical directory on a separate page included with the zipfile.

to article list Recent Background through Archived Newswires.
Further background to a story can be gathered by reviewing the developments over time. Newswire archives stretch back years in commercial databases (covered later) but free internet archives only extend back two weeks.
database The Associated Press Newswire (variously known as AP and 'the wire') is available from many sources as listed on their site ( We present here an effective 14-day search of AP provided by The Washington Post.

(And is assumed. Accepts or not and (brackets)! )
Voice of America News ( has a fine, if simple, searchable archive stretching back a month.
database The Reuters newswire is supplied to a collection of online organizations. Here is a search by Yahoo:

Stories Photos Full Coverage
database The UPI newswire (United Press International) is available to browse and search through Virtual New York. The search of international news extends back a couple months.
database Yahoo News ( delivers to the web current news from Reuters, Associated Press, ABCNews and other smaller ones. Yahoo includes a free search for 7 days of newswire news. The advanced search page is here.

Search Stories Search Photos Search Full Coverage
database Northern Light Current News Search ( maintains a two week archive of news from Reuters and many of the smaller newswires. Thankfully, you can select individual newswires. Start here.

      Delivered to Me 

to article list Further Opportunities
Current News by Newsgroup. Clarinet is not free but you may already have 'free' access if your internet service provider, school or company subscribes. (Clarinet is not available for personal subscriptions.) Clarinet news is delivered as newsgroups starting with 'clari.', so if you have seen clari newsgroups, then you have access.
Clarinet ( brings you UPI, Reuters, Newsbytes and a few more. The information is delivered in tightly focused newsgroups such as (family issues, adoption & marriage), or This almost makes up for the absence of a search feature. Here is a list of clari newsgroups with descriptions, samples 1 & 2, and the list of subscribed ISPs. If you are an ISP, subscription info is here.
Current News by Email. News Index presents a simple and effective email notice service. The results of the news index search are emailed to you when a news item matches your interest. Yahoo has a similar system requiring you to register to Yahoo.
email NewsIndex ( also delivers by email - free! Simple set up a search, then log it for review.
On additional review, there are further companies involved in delivering news free by email. Northern Lights delivers alerts, Excite NewsTracker calls it a Clipping Service and C|net News calls it Instant News Alerts. We shall endeavor to compare by next update.
A sixth service NewsPage used to be a paid service but now delivers news free as a personalized webpage. It is unfortunately aimed at the dedicated business user, I feel. It appears to deliver only articles based by industry categories, and is dominated by paid newswires like PRWire and BusinessWire. NewsPage also offers a high-end news solution priced, I think, at $30/month.
webpage The NewsPage. Free Registration Required.


So you are interested in current news and you want to know what has happened? Buy a paper. Watch the evening news. Every city has this.

We must judge each of the resources here against the strengths of paper and news tv. It is true, we can accomplish more on the internet but watching video clips is not one. The physical nature of printed paper is another. Just having electronic access to a paper is neither interesting nor valuable, unless we can do something with it.

Text news has become ubiquitous on the internet. The very large industry of delivering news has embraced, or rushed, onto the internet and almost devalued the text news commodity completely. We can now read 15 different versions of the same activity at the touch of a button. As I write the young Cuban boy Elian is in the news. What paper shall I read? The Cuban paper Granma speaks of the kidnappers. US papers carry a more delicate phrase. The New York Times unearthed some dirt on the US family. All this news is available online. Almost all is free.

This does not address our need for a quick overview of the news. For this, perhaps you need again to read an important paper, set up an email delivery of interesting mail, or read one of many top headline news lists that match your focus. The section above is organized to present online news resources to best advantage.

Five ways to use news in research:

1_ Read news online as an alternative to your evening news or morning newspaper. Online news is available 24 hours a day from respected news organizations.

2_ Gather greater detail on news stories, gaining perspective and background.

3_ Collate news items as the basis of a timeline, a historical record of events.

4_ Arrange for current awareness bulletins and alerts so news articles come to you as they are reported. News stories by email will become a large industry over the next few years.

5_ Search past news as a way to locate information unlikely to emerge in journals or magazines. News includes a great deal of local detail and personal information unlikely to be found elsewhere.

      Archived News 

Archived News is not available on the internet. You will not find it anywhere. This is unfortunate as in many ways this is the most useful aspect of news. The information can only be accessed from commercial news databases.

to article list World News Connection
webpage The US Government markets a foreign news service, World News Connection which boasts the best coverage of non-US media sources. There is an extensive array of translated and English-language news and information from distant newspapers, key press agencies & broadcasters. The database extends back three or more years. Costs start at US$25 for 7 days/US$65 for a month for an individual. A little more includes alert services. Read their description.

to article list Newspaper Archives
webpage The Wall Street Journal ( runs a subscription service of about $49/year to their archive and newspaper...
webpage Newslibrary ( Sells access to past news databases from archives.
webpage US News Archives is a list of US Newspaper archives. Many are free, and many are paid archives. This document lists them.

Alerts and Current Awareness requests are built in to most information retrieval services. Though fairly complex, you can arrange for information to be emailed to you from Dialog databases by establishing an alert. Costs are considerable and reflect the commercial database environment.

to article list Commercial News Databases - Database Retailers
There are a selection of International Newswires and Newswire databases available to you.
database Agence France Newswire, is produced by AFP. This, is the primary French newswire. Further descriptions can be found from Dialog (English & French), Datastar (English, International - 1994 to date, in Spanish, General, Sports, & Economic) and InfoMart Canada (English & French).
database Canada Newswire, is the primary Canadian newswire. Further descriptions can be found from Dialog and InfoMart.
database Xinhua News is a Chinese newswire. Further descriptions can be found from Dialog.
database The Associated Press is a large English newswire. Further description from EINS.
database Newswire ASAP is produced by IAC, and includes citations and complete text to 11 international newswires, Further descriptions can be found from Dialog.
Alternatively, there are large collective databases of local news, which never appear on newswires:
database [US] National Newspaper Index is produced by IAC and is a US collection of local and regional news, Further descriptions can be found from Dialog, Datastar.


  5 Second Summary:
Current news is free online from many directions.        
There is one free news by email alert service.
For past news, seek a commercial news database.
News articles are typically light and biased. The sheer quantity of news in the large news databases makes this a useful resource to fall back for any tightly focused research topic. I once discovered an obscure scientist working in a unique field from a small 3 paragraph article in a local farmer's newspaper in England.

Article ListResearch CommentarySeminar datesUpdate Notices Newswires and News Databases are just two elements of a large industry which extends to the your local newspaper and to further specialty databases. Most newspapers maintain their own local news database, and some make this available electronically. A manual clipping services may also be the option - certain firms manually page through local papers looking for advertisements or articles.

While on the topic, some newswires like Business Wire and PR Newswire essentially distribute news for money. The quality of the material originates from the advertising firm. Other newswires earn money in the reverse process: from the media who read or publish their work. Associated Press and Reuters charge news organizations. Others newswires like Voice of America (VOA) are alternatively (government) funded.

Many newswires are tightly focused, such as Newsbyte (computer issues), PR Newswire (product releases), and Middle Eastern newswire. It is a proven business model and consequently many new newswires are emerging online like U-wire (university campus papers), VentureWire (venture projects), Yahoo has a list of many of the smaller ones. Unfortunately, the meaning of the word newswire has eroded, and is today applied to many simple efforts without the size or strength of the important global newswires.

I should mention that the newswires also transmit pictures and video to their clients. We may only see the print newswires on the internet but there is more available - but at prices only of interest to news organizations, Though I have heard rumours of news sites adding more videoclips and pictures.

to article listThe Spire Project - better ways to find information.
Like this? You should attend our public seminar and receive our bi-monthly update notice.
 | | | Project Background | Feedback. Copyright©David Novak 2002.