Magazine article Editor & Publisher

NCN's New Web Search Engine: Turning 110+ Newspaper Web Sites into a Single Database

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

NCN's New Web Search Engine: Turning 110+ Newspaper Web Sites into a Single Database

Article excerpt

New Century Network (NCN) has launched a proprietary online search service that turns the Web pages of more than 110 of its affiliate newspapers into a single, searchable database updated hourly. The new function, called "News Works Search," is accessible at www.newsworks.com.

Built with "crawler" and search technology developed by InfoSeek, News Search went live as part of the larger NCN News Works gateway Web site on June 30. And although the search feature was originally designed by NCN to lure consumers interested in searching out recently published newspaper stories about sports, cooking and entertainment, a test by E&P Interactive has found it to be an effective research tool for journalists.

The NewsWorks search engine finds and retrieves full-text articles from 110+ newspaper Web sites ranging from those of the Miami Herald and Atlanta Journal and Constitution to the Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times. Such in-depth searching across a nationwide collection of newspapers was previously available only through costly, proprietary information services such as Lexis-Nexis or Knight-Ridder's Dialog.

Supported totally by sales of banner ads displayed on each page of search results, the NewsWorks Search service is free for the user. No registration or password is required.

"We are the only entity we know of providing this kind of newspaper resource on the World Wide Web," explained NCN creative director Christopher Vail. "We were aiming for something as useful as it was unique."

Custom Crawler in an Endless Cycle

NewsWorks Search employs a custom crawler that visits each page of each newspaper site in an endless cycle. The crawler, which recognizes any changes since its last visit, indexes any new text content contained on the "public" pages of a newspaper Web site. It does not access for pay news archives behind fire walls. Thus, the actual response from each site can differ. Some newspapers have only their most current news on public Web site pages and all their archived stories behind a fire wall. Others maintain large archives along with current news on their public pages.

It's particularly useful for journalists because it provides an economical way to quickly gather news facts on any given issue from across the entire country. For instance, imagine you've assigned a reporter to do a story involving disaster insurance trends in tornado areas, or local government response to tornado disasters. The first thing the reporter needs to do is establish where tornadoes have recently occurred. …

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