Dow Jones Interactive Publishing recently made several announcements about new and enhanced features and additional content available on the Dow Jones Interactive search service. Acknowledging the desire of subscribers to simplify and integrate their searching, the company announced the launch of Web Center, a new feature in the DJI Web-based search service that allows subscribers to search for content on business Web sites carefully selected by Dow Jones editors to complement the proprietary sources in the Publications Library.
According to the company, the Web Center provides access to company, industry, news, and government sites, as well as sites that cover trade groups, associations and financial markets. Sites are indexed up to three times a day, depending on how frequently the site itself is updated. Searches can be run in nine languages on a single site, several sites, categories of sites, or the entire collection consisting of sites from around the world.
The Web Center incorporates the content developed by Dow Jones editors for the separate site that has been available for a year, called the Dow Jones Business Directory (http://bd.dowjones.com). The site has proven very popular as a free, reliable guide to the best of business Web sites. Over 1,000 sites are evaluated for content, speed, navigation, and design, and are listed with rated reviews. Now this valuable directory information is available in the Web Center, combined with the ability to search the sites included. Searchers can browse a directory of sites, read reviews, save search statements, and create and save custom lists of sites. A company representative assured me that the Business Directory would continue to be available as a separate free site, with updated evaluations of sites.
Longtime searcher Judith Mandelbaum of Burrelle's Information Services said, Web Center is a most impressive product, not only because they select relevant sites for inclusion, but because it integrates the Web with their other sources, and both are enriched. Another expert searcher and commentator on the industry, Mary Ellen Bates, said that she likes the fact that she can use a single search interface to search selected multiple sites. How many times have you spent too much time flailing around in a company's site, looking for its annual report? With Web Center, you click on the site and type Annual Report in the search box and you're linked right to it. However, she noted that some sites from major companies are not included, and that the site evaluations vary considerably in length and details. Overall she considers it a useful adjunct to DJI.
Timothy M. Andrews, vice president and editor, Dow Jones Interactive Publishing, said: Our goal is to provide a single source for essential business information to help professionals make sound business decisions more quickly. The Dow Jones Web Center puts quality Web content into a searchable form so our customers don't have to spend time surfing the Web trying to determine what's worth reading, and sorting through thousands of dead links or irrelevant items. Professionals realize their time is worth too much to waste it when they have a smarter choice.
I asked Andrews about the search engines used in Dow Jones Interactive, and specifically in Web Center. He replied: We use a variety of technologies for searching and profiling in Dow Jones Interactive, including PLS, Site Server by Microsoft, and Verity. Each of them has been customized for our environment, and to meet the needs of our diverse user base. We select technology that meets our needs, that is reasonable to operate, and that is stable from a technology and functionality perspective. PLS, Site Server, and Verity all meet that criteria.
Dow Jones Interactive to Add AP Newswires
The company also announced an agreement with the Associated Press that will make AP's newswire content both continuously updated worldwide wires plus an archive available to subscribers of the Dow Jones Interactive service. A Dow Jones representative indicated that they are still considering how deep the archive will be, but we believe we'll start with between 1 and 2 years.
This is the first time an online service will be able to provide its business customers with continuously updated AP news in combination with an archive of the AP newswire collection, said Thomas R. Brettingen, director of business development for the AP. Being part of Dow Jones Interactive offers the AP a great opportunity to reach new and growing markets hungry for critical and reliable news.
Dow Jones has had a relationship with AP for some years, which allowed for some AP content to be incorporated into Dow Jones News Services. The new agreement is notable for making the full collection of AP wires availableincluding the highly valued AP States Wires without a time lag.
I asked Jim Robertson, manager of distributor markets for AP, whether this represented a change in policy for the company concerning its closely guarded collections. He said, Prior to the Dow Jones arrangement, the AP States Wires were not available for redistribution in real time. He indicated that AP had indeed changed its policy and was now seeking to provide the wires to other clients, indicating that Dow Jones has not secured an exclusive contract.
A key competitor to Dow Jones, LEXIS-NEXIS, currently has a 24-hour lag time in receipt of the wires, but I'll bet they wont be far behind in negotiating a new deal with AP. They had been the first service to offer the AP States Wires archive about a year ago. DIALOG carries the AP Wires also, with a 24-hour lag, but has not had the States Wires as part of its feed.
The full set of AP newswires, known as the MegaStream collection, is scheduled to be available in Dow Jones Interactive near the end of the fourth quarter of 1998. The collection includes the following:
- AP States Wires current state and regional news coverage of events by AP bureaus in each state
- AP Alert Wires current international, U.S., regional, and local news coverage of events, organized by vertical markets and culled from all AP newswires
- AP National DataStream newswires AP's primary news report for the nation's newspapers that consists of in-depth general, sports, business, and financial news
- WorldStream a collection of AP's international newswires (The service covers news of major importance from an international perspective rather than a U.S. perspective.)
- AP Online a news report written for a general business and consumer audience that includes the top national, international, sports, and financial news, plus news from Washington, DC
More Enhancements to Dow Jones Interactive
In addition, Tim Andrews recently notified customers by letter of several other new enhancements to the system. Subscribers can now create their own Dow Jones Interactive Home Pages. There is a Personal News label in the left margin of the standard home page of Dow Jones Interactive. Selecting this option displays the most recent headlines and lead sentences from CustomClip folders. This can be customized to make the Personal News area appear as a users own Dow Jones Interactive home page.
Expanding further on providing customization options, DJI now permits users to save custom search settings in the Publications Library as their default settings, for example, to search a frequently used list of sources, or search not just the past 2 years. Finally, CustomClips folders can be shared with workgroups, departments, or an entire company. And CustomClips articles can be delivered via e-mail in full-text format or in HTML.
More information on Dow Jones Interactive Publishing and its products can be found at http://ip.dowjones.com.