Online News

Fall 2002 CSANews Issue 44  |  Posted date : Apr 09, 2007.Back to list

My morning ritual, outside of bathing, shaving (not my legs) and dressing for work, was going through the morning paper to keep current on the daily news. It was my way of easing into the day. Technology has transformed my morning thirst for news from the paper tabloids to the selective, searchable online services. They reduce the time I spend leafing through pages searching for headings of interest and, very important to us conservationists, save some trees. Yes, I'm talking about online news services. I live in Maple, a stone's throw away from Toronto, Ontario, so I mostly visit www.thestar.com or www.theglobeandmail.com.

On both sites, you can see a quick snapshot of the day's news and select stories that interest you. Both services offer quick links to all sections as you would find them in their respective print editions. It's easy to use and there are very few advertisements.

A great national service is www.cbc.ca. Yes, that's our CBC. When breaking news events arise, more Canadians turn to the CBC for their news than to any other broadcaster. Today, cbc.ca offers nearly 300,000 pages of content with local, national and international news, business, sports, entertainment, consumer affairs and more.

CBC's Web site also offers a choice

of news delivery. You can read stories, listen to live radio (if your computer is equipped with a sound card and speakers), or listen to or watch the last live radio or television broadcasts from across the country. The quality of the broadcasts, be they radio or television, are a function of the speed of your Internet service and your computer configuration.

Technology being what it is, how long did you think it would be before there was an automated news service?

Today, and for the last two weeks, Google (who came up with that name anyway) has a new news service called (you guessed it) Google News available at news.google.com (I'll try to slow down on the brackets). This is the most unique news service offering on the net as it is 100 per cent compiled by computer algorithms without human intervention. That's...no people, people. Editors beware. Technology is creeping into your shoes.

As the site whimsically points out, "No humans were harmed or even used in the creation of this page."

What's impressive (or scary to some) is that Google's computers rank the news of the day hierarchically, like human-edited news sites do. They have been credited with doing as good a job as major

news sites, by editors of major news sites, at picking the top stories of the moment. And I mean moment. Google News searches and browses 4,000 news sources every 15 minutes. And to show you that they are current, beside each heading, the site shows you how long each story has been available.

Gone are the days when plagiarism is frowned upon ­ at least on the net. In the case of Google News, it does not contain one iota of original news, only links to articles published by other news sites around the world. It's more of a research tool that piggybacks onto other news services and, for now, has a U.S. flavour to it. It is also excellent for international news and offers a number of perspectives on each story with links to each source.

Like any new technology offering, Google News does have some glitches but for me, this human-free newscast may prove to be habit-forming because it is so dynamic, changing more frequently than the publications it indexes.

The Internet has brought the world into our homes. Learn how to use the news services and you might swear off printed papers. Give them a chance and you, too, may save some trees.