"Meta" search engines allow librarians to search the web efficiently by sending a search request to more than one engine at a time. NewsTrawler is a meta-search engine specializing in searching archives of Web news sources and a useful starting point for undergraduates looking for current news stories.
The site is based in Australia, which probably explains the site's preference for news sources from Asia; of the 18 countries in the "publications by country" list, 9 are in that part of the world, while the Americas, Europe and South Africa also appear. Many of the sites are not in English, which patrons should keep in mind when composing a search. Publications are also classified by "category," or type of publication, but the user should be aware that the publications listed as journals might merely have "journal" in the title. In all, the NewsTrawler site covers around 200 news sources.
The simple search interface consists of a window to enter search terms, a drop-down list to choose the search's timeout limit, and another drop-down box that lets the user determine if images should be provided. There are no help screens, possibly because each news source treats a search differently. At the top of each publication's search results, which appear together as one long page, the user will see the search strategy as interpreted by that publication's search engine. In this way I determined that some of the sites treated an intended phrase search correctly, while others put "and" between each term.
One downside is the inability of users to know in advance whether they will have to pay to see a full article. Sometimes in the search results a price appears next to an article summary, but occasionally a patron will click on an article with no price listing, only to find that access the site's archive requires payment of a subscription fee. The NewsTrawler administrators might add a symbol to a publication title to indicate fee-based access.
NewsTrawler entered the Internet on June 27, 1998 and is still developing. The site administrators are very responsive to suggestions, generally responding to my e-mail messages within 24 hours. They are open to ideas for new publications and require only 15 minutes to add new sites.
University of Portland
July 17, 1998