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Old 12-17-2006, 08:55 AM   #1
Richard Waller
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Default Newspapers -v- Online

Get your daily news on line. The hardcopy versions are getting so large and so expensive, and take so long to read thoroughly that I am thinking of cancelling the morning call by the boy-on-the-bike. In fact if it wasn't for the crossword which my wife spends about half-an-hour on, which is only available on-line by subscription I would have stopped by now.

The Daily Telegraph on Saturday comes in about 12 sections - about 150 pages - weighs 2lbs (900 grams) - costs 1.40 UKP (say $3) - takes about four hours to read. And then goes in the recycle bin. Life is too short.

Plus the online version is updated at 4pm with the latest trivia. The tabloids are smaller, cheaper and have very little news, though lots of celebrity scandal. The Mirror and the Star can be read cover-to-cover in about 6 minutes, but why bother.

But the difference in format between printed and on-line is interesting. Online the headline is key; if the topic is not clearly stated in the headline it will not get accessed at all. Titles and first four words in this forum could sometimes learn from this.

And visitors will skip over any page where it is solid text; more headings than the printed version are necessary.

   
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Old 12-17-2006, 09:51 AM   #2
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On-line articles may contain inaccuracies that will be corrected before the newspaper goes to print. That to me is the major problem with giving up the paper for the web.

Newspaper editors may post an article before it has been completely fact-checked. The corrected version will appear in the next day’s paper, but many readers do not see it (or read it if they have already read it on-line).

This allows the paper to be timely, to compete with TV news and on-line news sources, but it can introduce errors that stick in readers’ minds. Compounding the error, other publications link to or quote from the on-line edition, perpetuating any misinformation that may be there.

Newspapers today are interested in increasing their readership, and see on-line publication as crucial to doing that. But the very ease of publishing on the web interferes with the careful source- and fact-checking that make a good newspaper worth having.

Otherwise we could just accept all the stuff that comes out of blogs and the 11 minutes of TV news in the evening, and be done with it.

So while I do join with you in moaning about the waste (and all those dratted sections) of the daily paper, I’m not ready to give it up. The web is great for quick updates but not at this point for thoughtful, well-edited journalism.

   
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Old 12-18-2006, 01:58 AM   #3
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Online you can usually correct errors of fact, and also hopefully spelling and grammar mistakes. Once it is in hard-copy the author relies on his editor and/or proof-reader. It really worries me when I find a typo in a hard-bound book for which I have paid a lot of money (or from the library). Found one last night in a book from a well known author, which of course would have gone past a spellchecker.

In any media we must rely on feedback from others for the stories that are factually wrong. I tend to read the media that has the same slant on life as I do, like the Telegraph in my case, and worry when the BBC come out with stories which are slanted in what I believe is the wong direction. And on the air it is not easy to correct errors of fact. So the rule must be to use your own judgement about anything you hear from anyone.

   
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Old 12-17-2006, 10:31 AM   #4
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For me the major advantage of online newspapers / news is that I don't depend on a single source.

I'm mostly interested in international news anyway and in newspapers today's news will quickly fade for another subject tomorrow while the story still goes on. Online sources can be more balanced that way. I also like the balance of different sources and viewpoints - even though Dutch newspapers tend to have quite a bit of international news (compared to US newspapers, for instance), it's still seen through "Dutch-colored glasses".

My current collection for daily browsing is as follows:
  • Het Parool - A Good Dutch newspaper and one of the few that still allows me to read online without having to register (which I refuse to do); it's based in Amsterdam so I get some local news as
    well as national and international
  • BBC news - the videos are terrible quality, the articles the opposite, good selection of international news
  • Al Jazeera English News - like BBC news a good selection of international news, from a markedly different viewpoint (Middle-Eastern as opposed to European/Western); you find stories here that are not found anywhere else
That's my basic list. I supplement this with other more "local" sources related to past and future travels, such as:
  • Yemen Observer - I'm planning to go to Yemen next spring; this is the web site of one of the two Yemeni newspapers appearing in English (the other is the Yemen Times); providing a good insight in current issues in Yemen ranging from freedom of the press via the need for education for women to the problems caused by people marrying cousins (something that is actually increasing!); the newspaper appears twice a week
  • While Yemen will probably be a once-off destination, China is one of those countries that keeps pulling me back, so Xinhua - English, the official national Chinese news agency, not only gives me yet another view of international news, but keeps me informed of Chinese news as well
If there's any reading time left, I supplement this with various RSS feeds, such as the news feeds from aggregator Moreover.com giving extra news sources in return for an easily-ignored commercial item per feed; I'm currently subscribed to news from/about Central Asia, China, Iran, Syria and Turkey; you can even use their (free) feeds on personal web sites and I'm considering adding some to my travel blog.

I don't have a subscription to any (paper) newspaper - waste of time and money. That said, when I travel by train or metro, we have two free newspapers to choose from and I often pick up one or both: a good way to keep current when you don't sit behind your internet-window-on-the-world.

   
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Old 12-17-2006, 10:39 AM   #5
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I actually did a report relating to this very topic for my degree. One area of research which was fascinating is the newspaper vending kiosk.

Two main problems exist:

Firstly, not everyone has broadband or even internet access at all. In many poor parts of the world, acess to news may be limited. A newspaper vending kiosk can download an HTML or PDF of a newspaper and print in out in a few minutes. All without a computer.

Secondly, a newspaper could be printed in remote and distant areas such as a cruise liner or an oil rig. Not to mention airports, bus and train staions, etc.

A newspaper vending kiosk mixes online news delivry with good old fashioned printing.
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Old 12-18-2006, 01:29 AM   #6
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Hmm: would I rather read the papers sitting with tea, toast and marmalade in the kitchen of a Sunday morning, or go down to the office and fire up the PC? There is still no substitute for me for reading real paper for pleasure. The same goes for the book at bedtime!
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Old 12-18-2006, 04:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoisWakeman View Post
There is still no substitute for me for reading real paper for pleasure. The same goes for the book at bedtime!
For me too. Aside from pleasure, there is portability — no battery worries with the paper, and it happily goes from the breakfast table to a chair, to anywhere.

Easier to scan, too. I always wonder what I am missing on the web, pointing and clicking at topics that appear to be of interest.

As for books, so far there is no substitute.

   
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Old 12-18-2006, 04:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
lois: There is still no substitute for me for reading real paper for pleasure.
Got that right!

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Old 12-18-2006, 03:49 AM   #9
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<<But the difference in format between printed and on-line is interesting. Online the headline is key; if the topic is not clearly stated in the headline it will not get accessed at all. Titles and first four words in this forum could sometimes learn from this.>>

The Independent may be something of an exception -- all the printed word of the paper edition and the central part of the front page is a copy of that days printed front page. Click on 'news' and you just get a list of all the articles -- no catchy headlines, just an informative list.

I've made it my home page but it isn't always a good way to start the day. This morning I saw this:

http://news.independent.co.uk/enviro...cle2083841.ece

and it's made me feel quite depressed.

BTW, what does the ece file extension signify?

   
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Old 12-18-2006, 05:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike View Post
This morning I saw this:

http://news.independent.co.uk/enviro...cle2083841.ece

and it's made me feel quite depressed.
I'd read that elsewhere already - depressing indeed. But it's been known for many years that many of China's great rivers are heavily polluted; the Yellow River is another one. The pollution kills fish, and their predators, but threatens humans as well, at least their health. But China is huge, and has huge environmental problems - it's not that they don't know this or don't care: they're definitely working to improve matters; it's just too big to solve easily or fast.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
BTW, what does the ece file extension signify?
Interesting - I'd never seen that and did a bit of googling. Obviously it's some sort of server-side scripting but Google could find only two references (in 8 results pages, after tweaking the search terms), both mentioning the Independent site, and neither giving any more information. Their server announces itself as
Code:
Server: Oracle-Application-Server-10g/10.1.2.0.0 Oracle-HTTP-Server OracleAS-Web-Cache-10g/10.1.2.0.0
but it seems they're (also) using JSP (Java Server Pages); adding 'oracle' to 'ece' for search terms didn't help. However, Oracle application server 10g is a J2EE application server (which matches the JSP references I found). When I search the Oracle site for 'ece extension' in the documentation, I get numerous references to documentation pages for Oracle EDI gateway (EDI = Electronic Data Interchange) with strings starting with ECE_.... My guess is the .ece pages talk to an EDI gateway front end which in its turn accesses Java applications to pull in actual current content (from an Oracle database, obviously). But I am guessing...

But then you can use any extension you like as long as you tell the server what program should be responsible for processing documents with that extension. For all we know they could be actually using PHP. Not likely though.

   
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