Web Watch

Try out an interactive news site

As the polls were closing during the presidential election, many people turned to the Internet to find out the latest results. In what may well be the heaviest traffic yet seen on the Internet, CNN Interactive received more than 5 million accesses an hour on their web servers. CNN, however, is only one of many news sources available on the web. Most major newspapers and television networks now have web sites. In addition to the text of articles you might expect from a news service, many of these sites contain Internet-specific features such as chat rooms, breaking news and access to archives. One of the most significant new developments is the ability to customize news for your particular needs. At some sites, you can install software to notify you of breaking news. At other sites, you can tell the news service to send you e-mail about topics of interest. Now is a good time to begin exploring the major news sites. Competition is fierce, and many publishers are offering trial offers and free extras. Here are a few of my favorite sites:

The New York Times

The New York Times is updated daily and features almost the same information you get from the printed version in a slightly different format. If you are accustomed to reading the paper version of the Times, you will need to realize that the electronic version uses different categories to organize the information. Most of the hard news and regional news is listed under "News by Category." The crossword puzzle is listed under "Diversions." At present, the electronic version of The New York Times is free, but you must register before reading the articles. In addition, the Times offers premium services, such as access to archives and customized news feeds for a small fee. Netscape users can register on Netscape's home page (http://home. netscape. com) to get the customized news feeds for free.

Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal looks almost identical to the printed version of the paper, except that the electronic version is available at midnight before the printed version is published. The electronic version also features a 14-day archive and allows you to set up a "personal portfolio" to track stock quotes. As with The New York Times, you will need to register before you can read any articles. Although it costs $49/year (less if you already subscribe to the paper version) to subscribe to the electronic version of The Wall Street Journal, several trial offers are available. You may try the electronic version of The Wall Street Journal free for two weeks, or if you use Microsoft's Internet Explorer you can have a free subscription through the end of 1996.


MSNBC, a joint venture between NBC and Microsoft, contains up-to-the-minute news and commentary. In addition to news articles, MSNBC offers the widest selection of customization options. When you use MSNBC you can install a "News Alert" program that pops up an alert whenever there is breaking news about areas that you have preselected. In the next several months, MSNBC plans to offer a "Personal Delivery" option that will deliver news to your electronic mailbox. At present MSNBC is free.

CNN Interactive

CNN Interactive is an electronic version of the CNN cable network. Although CNN does not offer many of the customization options available from other news sources, it does have a reputation for being the most up-to-date news service available. For example, when I visited their site as I was writing this article, their home page was eight minutes old. CNN also is the only major site that makes its archives freely available.

As you begin to explore these sites, keep in mind that all of the major news sites are graphics intensive and take advantage of the newer features of the web. Whichever news service you choose, you will need to run one of the more recent versions (2.0 or better) of Netscape Navigator or Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/
Wall Street Journal http://www.wsj.com/
MSNBC http://www.msnbc.com/
CNN Interactive http://www.cnn.com/

Marie Matthews is WebMaster in Computing Resources Services, Information Technology Division.

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