By: Charles Bowen
Why do we still call it “news” when it is four years old?
You could find yourself asking that question at least once a week while using those Internet “news search engines.” Perhaps you are working on a story about a particular company with local ties and you need to see what has been recently written about it elsewhere. So, as usual, you head for the Web, call up your favorite search monster and you enter the name of the company. If you’re lucky, in a moment you have reams of references to previously published stories.
But what’s this? How “lucky” is it if those previously published stories go back as long ago as 1998? Now, don’t get me wrong. Obviously, being able to search a national, multi-year backlog of stories is a phenomenal tool for the harried journalist (though I do think we ought to appoint a subcommittee to come up with a new term for old news — “Olds”? “Newbrokes?”).
However, do you notice that most of these so-called news searchers are decidedly light on today‘s stories? Often the most recent reports they find for you are at least 48 hours old.
So, what can you use if you need new news? Give RocketNews a spin. It’s the best search engine I’ve found so far for locating current news from all around the Internet. RocketNews automatically searches thousands of sources, including major online national and city newspapers, newswires, magazines, trade publications, and press releases. Where other search engines seem satisfied to give us day-old news, this one focuses exclusively on the latest. In fact, no stories older than five days are ever listed by RocketNews.
To check it out, visit the site at http://www.rocketnews.com, where a simple introductory page is built around a data entry box. To use it, type in a word or phrase in the box. Click on the down-arrow under the “Days” field to select a time range, from one to five days. Click the Go button.
In a moment, the site provides a list of relevant hits, each with a half dozen lines of summary and a hyperlinked headline that can be clicked to reach the original source report. The stories are listed in order of relevance and freshness.
For more detailed research, click the “Advanced Search” link at the right of the data entry box. The site then opens an expanded search form that provides three data entry boxes.
* Words that must be included in the articles in the first box.
* And any of a group of additional words in the second box.
* Finally, words that must not be included in hits in the third box.
Select the time range from the drop-down “Days” list and click the Go button to search.
Other considerations for using RocketNews in your reporting and editing:
1. The site also has some pre-defined search options. Select the “Hot Topics” link from the list at the right of the data entry box and the site lists summaries and links to its best of the breaking news.
2. In addition, there are pre-defined searches for more than 300 other topics. After selecting the “Hot Topics” link from the main screen, click on a down-arrow next to one of the categories listed in the left column of the resulting screen, choosing from Business, Technology, Health, Current News, Sports, and Personal Interest. Each has a selection of subcategories. The Business topic, for instance, includes subcategories on advertising, aerospace and airlines to steel, travel and venture capital. Select a subcategory to see the latest stories in that group.
3. You also can use RocketNews to search current news directly from your desktop. Click the RocketNews Monitor link on the main display of the site to open a search-box window that can be used independently of the Web site. Best of all, the monitor requires no software to be downloaded.