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Getting the NewsóWebfeeds for Free
Posted On January 1, 2000
The news junkies among us have a multitude of choices for getting our news fix these days. In fact, there's so much available, one could just fritter away the days hopping from one news-rich site to another. Each site has unique features and advantages, some targeting news for a particular subject area, others offering personalization features, alert services, differing search capabilities, or a unique mix of content and analysis. Of course, the sites don't want you to hop elsewhereó they want to keep you. My favorite, for now (though certainly not the only resource I use), is still Yahoo! News ( It offers me the combination of breaking news and press releases that I need, mixed with a group of other key sources, and it sends me e-mail about companies that I track. It seems that sites of all kinds have no trouble doing deals to get news providers to send them news content.

Recently, an Internet start-up announced that it was the "first company today to offer free newsfeeds over the Web." "harvests" headlines for news and information from 1,500 Web sources and then assembles them into "Webfeeds" in 200 categories, which are offered free to Web publishers to integrate into their Web sites ( The headlines are available in HTML frames, e-mail, or XML formats. The company calls itself an "open source answer to news aggregation." The key here is that only headlines are aggregated, and clicking on the headline brings the reader to the original source. does not own or license the content, and therefore avoids any permission procedures, or licensing fees, or hardware for storage.

The company's press release boldly stated that the new venture is a "challenge to LEXIS-NEXIS and other traditional information providers," and that while companies like NewsEdge offer free services to individuals (actually, they're referring here to the service that is now for sale following the announced purchase of NewsEdge by RoweCom), claims to be the first to supply a broad range of newsfeeds to corporate and publisher Web sites. A representative from LEXIS-NEXIS disdainfully dismissed the notion of a threat, stating that the services couldn't even be compared since they are so different. claims that 5,500 sites participated in the beta test program and that it expects 400,000 sites to receive its newsfeeds by the fourth quarter of 2000. The company hopes that the success of the free program will entice users to sign up for its premium customized program, which charges fees starting at $1,500 a month. The company also works with portal builders, such as Aeneid ( and Epicentric ( to provide integrated news and other products.

Other companies have adopted the headline aggregation model, with some variations. NewsHub ( offers a searchable, customizable site with news headlines from 100 sources, updated every 15 minutes, organized into categories with a nice clean layout and an e-mail option. Its affiliate program to provide headlines to sites has a set-up fee and monthly charge. Another free service called 1stHeadlines ( specializes in headlines from "242 newspapers, broadcast and online sources," and offers a free search link from other sites. A headline service with a U.K. emphasis, NewsNow ( updates its news every 5 minutes, covers 160 sources, and has a feed available for a monthly fee. Two other companies, iSyndicate and Screaming Media, offer news for sites using a syndication model, which involves content licensing. So whether you are an individual news consumer or a site looking to attract and keep eyeballs, there are news headlines availableóeither free or for a price.

Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.

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