Customized News Alerts from the Gray Lady

The New York Times is now offering free, customized news alerts when articles that match your interest are published in the newspaper.

The new service, operating for little over a week now, is similar to those offered by other major news providers, such as CNN, MSNBC, Yahoo News, and others.

The Times News Tracker is available in several locations in the online version of the newspaper. On the homepage and section fronts, the right top corner of the page provides links to create or manage alerts. Pre-built alerts are also attached to individual articles, appearing on the middle-right of the page.

To see if a pre-built alert will satisfy your needs, simply click on the subject link. This is the same as performing a search using the keywords for the subject. If you like the results, simply click the "create" button next to the link.

This brings up a form that lets you customize the alert, adding additional topics, narrowing your topics using additional keywords and phrases, and limiting alerts to stories that cover at least one topic or all topic you've selected.

You can also create more sophisticated alerts using the News Tracker page. This page uses forms to let you enter keywords and not only limit by "any" or "all" words, but specify their location: anywhere in an article, or in the headline or byline only. You can also exclude specific words or phrases, or limit the alert to specific sections of the newspaper.

If you are interested in news about a specific company, the Times recommends using the company stock symbol.

Once you've created an alert, you can click a link to review the results, and further refine your parameters as needed.

When satisfied with your results, set the delivery schedule. This can be any time the news topic is matched, a daily digest in the mornings, afternoons, evenings or nights, or a weekly digest.

You can sign up for up to three alerts on different subjects. A control panel allows you to edit, turn off, or delete each alert individually.

If you're a fan of the New York times, the new News Tracker Alerts are definitely worth a look.

New York Times News Tracker Alerts
Use this link to get up to three free alerts. Registration (also free) is required to access the New York Times web site.

NYTD Unveils Free News Alerts,,12_993391,00.html
More about the News Alerts service, including speculation that the free service may be the first steps toward creating an enhanced subscription based service.

Yahoo Adds Search Features

Yahoo has introduced several new Search features, including expert picks and "cool site" results, the availability of PDF files, and file type markers.

"Cool sites" selected by Yahoo editors and marked with sunglasses have long been a hallmark of the directory. Now they're available in search results as well.

Yahoo editors are now listing PDF files in the directory, in addition to what has traditionally been just a home page or several key subpages for an entire web site. These are labeled with a red (PDF) symbol immediately to the right of a title, and appear both in directory listings and search results.

Finally, Yahoo now identifies file types from its Google-powered index with the addition of a simple marker to denote Word, Excel, PDF or other file types.

Yahoo continues to use a smaller subset of the complete Google index. "The size of the Google index that we use remains the same, however, we have decided to make some of the features more visible in order to continue improving Yahoo's search and directory services for consumers," said Yahoo spokesperson Diana Lee.


Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.