Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Find Product Reviews

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Find Product Reviews

Article excerpt

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Product reviews -- whether for new cars or old washing machines -- have often been journalistic orphans. A previous generation of newsroom librarians generally didn't clip them for filing, and their counterparts today don't always save them for searching in electronic databases. And yet, product reviews from specialized magazines and major newspapers can be a useful resource for reporters and editors on a variety of assignments. Suppose:

* The county commissioners are discussing replacement of the county government's ancient phone system, and you have just covered their hearing of a high-energy sales pitch from a company you (and they) are unfamiliar with. For your story, you want to see how this service stacks up against competitors.

* You're working on a feature about how to best see the autumn foliage, and you want to do a sidebar on what the well-appointed hiker will be wearing and carrying this fall.

* Your back-to-school package is weak in its advice for harried parents, so you pump it up with a piece on how power shoppers can find bargains on computers, printers, scanners and educational software.

* The possible failure of a home security system plays prominently in a local murder case. You're on deadline, and you need to find national contact information for the maker of this alarm.

* The travel staff is putting together stories on fall and winter vacations and, as always, is looking for new sources of information on resorts, ski lodges and restaurants.

For these and similar challenges, the Internet offers one-stop searching through the free Product ReviewNet site, a 2-year-old resource launched by Fran Berman, Bob Genoersi and Connie Massey, information service veterans who worked with H.W. Wilson, publisher of the venerable Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature. PRN covers a wide range of products, including stereos, appliances, computers, cameras, cars, camping gear, office equipment and sporting goods. Among the diverse publications indexed online are PC World, Audio, Boating, Gourmet, Family Handyman, Car and Driver, Backpacker, Scuba Diving, Tennis and Rolling Stone. And it culls other material from electronic publications such as Salon and Gadget Guru. …

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