Thursday, December 29, 2005

Roll your own (lousy?) newspaper:

Google has given me a great way to follow news. They even solve one of my pet peeves, that most newspapers will cover a breaking story and then never tell you, months later, what happened to it.

My new Google weapon is News Alerts. They allow me to specify a search for each alert. I let Google run the search once a day on new news and email me the hits. I have five alerts going right now (I wonder what's going to happen to Deborah Davis?), and they're turning my email into an informative read. Ten or fifteen Alerts could make me a well-read, well-informed citizen.

But here's the depressing part: News Alerts will tell me about topics I'm aware of. Who's going to fill me in on topics I don't know about, when all the good newspapers go out of business? 2005 was a bad year for newspapers. But I believe that the commercial news sources we all rely on are paid for by those papers. And the intelligent decisions about what news to feature are still mostly made by newspapers. I fear the day when papers will be obsolete.

UPDATE: My Google Alerts have been scammed! I received an email, formatted to look exactly like an alert, referring me to some dubious medications. When I looked closely, I realized I'd never made an alert for “Jason somebody”, and deleted the email spam.

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