Google News Alerts

I’ve always been a big fan of clipping services – things like the old “Mind-it” service from that allowed you to be kept up to date on pages that change. Many research services offer this feature, but clearly having one from Google is a fantastic addition to one’s online research tools.

The Google News Alerts, as they’re called, allow you to set up a simple query which Google will then activate every day, e-mailing you the results.  It’s not a search against the entire Google index, just against the news service.  Each day, bright and early, my e-mail pops up from Google with the latest information.  I find that I have to fine tune this query before it’s exactly what I want.  But the hits are very good.

They’re definitely comparable to the results I would expect – and do expect – from Reed Elsevier’s LexisNexis databases (using the EClipse product) and Thomson’s Westlaw (with Westclip).  These have entirely replaced the print clipping services that our media relations staff used to rely on – they may still do so, but I get more detailed, more current information directly from the database.  Even better, I can share the e-mail with others so they can see the cite for a recent article or mention of the department.

I’ve used Google so far for technical topics – like ultrawideband wireless – and it’s done quite well.  This is somewhat surprising, since Google is not particularly tech-oriented, but less surprising because there is so much technology industry news available on the ‘Net for free.

Other clipping services?  The only other services I rely on are very narrowly focused, usually over a single provider’s set of information.  For example, the Bizjournals Web site allows you to set up e-mail alerts, based on keywords and markets (most major cities in the US), where there is a Business Journal publication.  It’s handy and, although not very broad, it winkles out articles I would otherwise have missed.  If your business involves specific local markets, this is a great tool.

David Whelan

I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.