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Thomsonís West Group Recasts and Expands Business News Service as Westnews
by
Posted On April 10, 2000
West Group (http://www.westgroup.com), a division of the Thomson Corp. (http://www.thomson.com), has gathered up the sources already in its Westlaw News and Business service, added some new data sources, redesigned the interface, and retitled the service Westnews. Competing with the NEXIS side of West's traditional foe, LEXIS-NEXIS, Westnews draws on an array of sources gatewayed from DIALOG and from Factiva's Dow Jones Interactive. With the acquisition of The Dialog Corp. by Thomson, one should expect to see new sources on Westnews go into DIALOG as well. West has primarily targeted the service toward legal researchers who need business and news information, such as corporate legal departments.

One major new data source and two new features designed for intranets have been added. The West Company Profile database (CO-PROFILE), created by sister company Gale Group, contains over 310,000 company background profiles with news and data on corporate executives, key products, financial statistics, etc. for public and, in particular, privately held companies. Profiles can carry up to 12 categories of information in the profile display, as follows:

  • Cover page of directory information including name, address, URL, telephone number, industry classification, year founded, employee base, structure, and annual sales information
  • Divisions and subsidiaries
  • Key people
  • A full list of the company's product line, branding, and strategy
  • Recent news culled from 2,500 newspapers, periodicals, and trade press over the latest 5 years
  • Industry overview with a narrative on the market value, volume, competitive analysis, and forecasts
  • Company overview with variant names, ranking of the company in "top lists," a historical sales summary for private companies and a stock overview for public companies
  • Financial performance income statements and balance sheet summaries from SEC filings on public companies only
  • Corporate chronologies for 1,500 of the top world companies
  • Financial statement analysis on sales and earnings information for public companies and general financial condition
  • Wall Street Views with summaries of recent investment analyst reports and recommendations
  • Industry group comparison of the top 20 companies in each industry including market share and profitability.
The Westnews interface to the file supplies a template where users can enter company name, ticker symbol, address (city, state, country, ZIP code), and SIC or NAICS code. The database also carries more than 67 million public and private company reports from Dun and Bradstreet.

Westnews also easily identifies 32 databases using the new North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), the industrial categorization code that is replacing the Standard Industrial Classification system (SIC). NAICS-indexed files contain articles from newspapers, newsletters, trade press, etc. inside industry databases covering accounting, advanced technology, advertising and marketing, agriculture, transportation, building materials, chemicals and plastics, communications, computers, construction, electronics, engineering and design, entertainment and recreation, finance and insurance, foods, beverages and tobacco, furniture and home and office products, health care, information industries, legal services, machinery, metals, mining and drilling, paper and packaging, petroleum, printing, real estate, retailers and wholesalers, textiles and apparel, utilities, and consulting.

As part of the marketing push to service intranets, the WestNewslink service delivers headlines, titles, and the first few lines of text from six leading newspapers, 10 top business news periodicals, nine federal courts, state cases from all 50 states, the Congressional Record, the Federal Register, and other sources. Searches cover the last 30 days with a maximum of 12 back issues. So, for a daily newspaper, searchers could preview the 12 most recent issues, for a weekly publication, four issues, etc. West does not charge extra for the service, but users pay standard rates when they choose to get a full-text article.

WestIntraClip will search up to five saved user queries daily and deliver the first few lines of retrieved documents to a law firm or corporate legal department intranet. It delivers new documents culled from the last 30 days. It can also send e-mail notifications when the current awareness service has added new documents. Intranet users can access the new site, as well as the 10 most recent WestIntraClip sites for all queries at no extra charge. Regular Westlaw charges apply when users see the full-text document. Sources available to WestIntraClip from Westnews are ALLNEWS; ALLNEWSPLUS; Dow Jones Major Newspapers; Magazine, Journals and Newsletters; The Wall Street Journal; New York Times News Service; The Washington Post; and Los Angeles Times; from the Westlaw side, ALLCASES, ALLFEDS, ALLSTATES, Congressional Record, and the Federal Register.

According to Andrew Prozes, West Group's executive vice president, the company designed Westnews as a tool to help attorneys, librarians, and paralegals move quickly and seamlessly from legal research or citation checking to business research. Prozes said, "Westnews is designed to deliver the information that can best support planning and business decisions by giving law firms and corporate legal departments access to a full complement of business information and reporting tools from the industry's most trusted sourcesóintegrated seamlessly with their legal research."

West initiated gateway service to non-legal information through a relationship with DIALOG formed in 1990. A few years later it added Dow Jones Interactive. Although undoubtedly this Westnews service was in the works before the DIALOG acquisition by Thomson, nevertheless, the language used in the Westnews marketing documents emphasizes the connection to Dow Jones: "At the core of Westnews is Dow Jones Interactive, the premier business intelligence service." Other descriptions of the service indicate that West draws most of its full-text coverage from Dow Jones, even when much the same sources exist in DIALOG. This fact could simply reflect the technical realities of similar database architectures between West and Dow Jones. It should not be treated as any confirmation of the current rumor that Thomson may try to purchase Dow Jones. In any case, Thomson never comments on its acquisition plans.


Barbara Quint is senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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