Top Stories from the Business/Finance pages of the International Herald Tribune,
Monday, June 19, 1995
Newspapers on the Net: Think Local, Act Global
By Brad Spurgeon International Herald Tribune
Paris -- Thanks to the Internet, a growing number of travelers and expatriates no longer have to subscribe to their local papers to get the latest news and gossip from home. Entirely supported by advertising, newspapers are using the Information Highway to reach readers wherever they may be.
The offerings range from some of the leading American and British dailies to the Joong-ang Daily News of South Korea, the Gazeta Wyborcza of Poland and the Milford Cabinet, serving southern New Hampshire since 1802.
One thing these papers have in common is that they are free to users, except for phone and Internet connection charges. Some offer nearly the full text of a newspaper, while others provide little more than an Internet advertisement for the publication, along with phone numbers to the subscription department.
Often newspapers take advantage of the multimedia part of the Internet called the World Wide Web to offer at least some of their graphics, like news columns and photos, on the Net to attract readers. Many are using their Netpapers to offer news and services that they do not publish on paper for lack of space. All a reader needs is an Internet connection and a Web-browsing program.
Among the larger papers, The New York Times is an example of a publication doing a bit of all the above. It recently set up a Web page at http://nytimesfax.com that provides free its daily TimesFax product, an eight-page condensed version of the current day's newspaper. On the Web this is delivered as a file that may be read using a program called Acrobat. The service provides this program free, allowing you to see and print out a version of The Times that looks more like a newspaper than a Web page.
While the service gives readers the news in a nutshell, it does have its disadvantages. Pat Clifford, an American who works in a software development company in Surrey, England, says he usually has to make several efforts daily before succeeding at downloading the large TimesFax file, which cannot be viewed until it is complete.
He does not give up, however, because "I am a native New Yorker, and I love The Times," he says.
This week the Times Web site added connections to several other departments that are not offered in the newspaper. One of them, Computer News Daily, provides the full text of articles on computing from several other newspapers and news services.
The advertising that sponsors these pages is subtle: An icon, or small picture, representing the advertiser appears on the screen. If users wish to see the ad, they simply select the icon with the mouse.
This soft-sell method is becoming the Net standard for advertising, after years of debate on whether commercials should have a place on the Internet.
Advertising also is contributing to an explosion in the growth of on-line newspapers. Steve Outing, a newspaper consultant, says the number of publications with on-line services increased fivefold between 1993 and 1994, to 100. He estimates there will be a total of 500 by the end of this year and 2,000 in two years.
The Washington Post's on-line service, Digital Ink, due later this summer, will provide full text of all Post stories, news and information that is not published in the paper, and access to Post archives back to 1986. It also will include texts of speeches and news conferences.
The Daily Telegraph of London made its debut on the Web in November and has become Britain's most visited site, with 500,000 hits a day and around 100,000 pages served to 10,000 individual readers. The Electronic Telegraph, at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk, is a colorful and complete version of the newspaper, with recent full-text articles and an archive going back to November.
Although traditional newspapers may compete tooth and nail, on-line newspapers seem to be following the courtly rules of netiquette. It is not unusual, for example, to find lists of other newspapers available on the Net on the site of a paper that is itself on the Net.
The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina, offers an excellent list of addresses to other newspapers on the Net at: http://www.nando.net. The newspaper is taking this business several steps further by acting as an Internet service provider itself to local households.
The Internet may also be changing the way readers perceive world events. While regular readers of the Roanoke Times & World News of western Virginia might come to the Net to get updates on local happenings, they might also use the Web's easy navigational features to browse through the Irish Times in Dublin or the Melbourne Age in Australia.
To find out if your hometown newspaper is accessible on the Net, the best place to start is at one of the many media lists compiled by aficionados.
Steve Outing maintains a good international list, the most detailed in terms of giving information about what each newspaper is offering, at: http://marketplace.com:80/e-papers.list.www.
Another list containing 252 newspapers, including college papers, is at: http://www.newslink.org/newslink/index.html.
Yet another, the quick and compact Yahoo list, is at http://www.yahoo.com/news.
Internet access to many newspapers, including the International Herald Tribune, is limited to electronic-mail correspondence with readers. The IHT plans to have an active Web site later this year. In the meantime, IHT articles are available through the commercial databases Nexis and DataTimes.
Most of the Web newspapers would do well to look at Wired magazine's Web product, called HotWired. HotWired has grown into a completely different product from the magazine, offering perhaps the largest range of news and user interactivity of any of the above-mentioned sites.
Sir Peter Smithers, a former British politician and international civil servant who describes himself as ``an old-age pensioner today, having been a great many things in the past,'' queried CyberScape to find out how to receive HotWired. ``I amuse myself vastly with my computer while awaiting death,'' he said. ``I would amuse myself even more if I could receive HotWired.''
Internet address: CyberScape@iht.com
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