By: Charles Bowen Indexes News Sources

Being a proud sort, journalists in general don’t like outsiders
telling them how to find the news. Whether it’s scrolling the
wires for new leads or prowling around the dim corridors of the
courthouse to talk with sources, reporters and editors like to
think of themselves as always having the inside track on
information. And at the same time, many also are especially wary
of the Web as a source for what is passed off to be legitimate

That’s no wonder. The Internet has changed our business forever.
Gatekeepers, be damned! You no longer need the backing of a
newspaper, magazine, or a broadcasting organization to pass
yourself off as a journalist. People everywhere with a little Net
savvy are setting up Web sites and christening themselves as Web
reporters and editors.

We’ve seen many powerful examples of how the Web can be used to
produce colorful “news-like” products. Near-news is a heady blend
of gossip, fact, and wishful thinking. Still, we ought not let
our previous bad experiences prejudice us against all the Web for
newsgathering. Some new resources, even those produced by non-
journalistic organizations, can be valuable tools for writers and
editors on the go.

A case in point is The latest creation by a Web
company called StartSpot Mediaworks, HeadlineSpot is a portal to
literally thousands of online news resources. News is indexed by
media type (such as headlines, newswires, newspapers, television,
and so on), as well as by geographic region, general subject, and
opinion sections.

Links also are offered to the top news of the day. Headlines are
sorted by media type and by subject, with a frequently updated
collection of selected headlines in a right-hand column. In
addition, you can browse for news by city, state, and country
through a series of pull-down menus.

To check it out, visit the site at,
where you are greeted by one of the busiest introductory pages
you’re likely to see anywhere in cyberspace. The center two
columns contain dozens of hyperlinks in categories such as
Today’s News Photos, Newswires, U.S. Newspapers, Columnists,
International News, Weather, Sports, Political News, Travel,
Science, Radio, Magazines, Entertainment.

Scroll the page for the site’s Answers on the Spot section, which
covers topics such as, “Can I get headlines by e-mail?” “Where
can I search obituaries?” and “What happened on this day?” Lower
on the page is an “On the Lighter Side” section with links to
humor, offbeat reports, crosswords, and games and “good news”
reports. The site also can be searched. Use search fields at the
top of the introductory screen to locate news resources by city,
state, or country. In addition, a “Search the News” box in the
middle of the introductory screen provides keyword searching of
ABC, BBC, Yahoo! News, and The Washington Post. Or click
the “More news search tools” link in the same box for additional
online utilities.

Other considerations for using in your writing
and editing:

o If you’re planning to write about the site in your news
columns, you might be interested in some statistics. The site
currently links to some 40 U.S. metropolitan newspapers in 50
states, as well as news resources in 57 countries and 27 specific
industries. It also connects with more than 50 op-ed pages and
nearly 100 columnists.
o The site has a useful resources section. Scroll the main page
to the bottom and look in the left-hand column for links to
resources specifically intended for journalists, for kids, and
for teachers.
o If you like how HeadlineSpot is organized and updated, you
might want to check into StartSpot Mediawork’s other creations.
o Use the drop-down box at the top of the introductory display to
select other stops on the StartSpot Network, including
GourmetSpot, GovSpot, BookSpot, HomeworkSpot, LibrarySpot,
MuseumSpot, CinemaSpot, EmploymentSpot, and TripSpot.

Bowen writes columns, articles and books from West Virginia, and is host of the daily Internet News syndicated radio show (

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher

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