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E-M:/ Acres of Diamonds in Our Own Backyard, #3: Search Engines at Detroit Free Press and Detroit News.

Enviro-Mich message from joonmck <joonmck@gateway.net>

Dear EMers, 

Most of us have heard about Baby Jessica, the Texas child who fell down
an abandoned well some time ago. But what if you were doing research (or
writing a story) on abandoned water wells in Michigan and wanted to
discover if there were any similar "Baby Jessica" stories here-about to
give your story some punch (i.e. local relevance). When I faced this
dilemma I turned to the Detroit Free Press's search engine, typed in
"abandoned well" and within seconds unshackled a reference to a 1997
incident in Lenawee County, where "firefighters rescued a woman and a
10-year-old girl who fell into one."

"Journalism is the first draft of history," so they say. Till recently
though, old newspaper clips on a sought-after topic were only accessible
in the newspaper's Morgue," as they call a newspaper's archives. (Yes,
you could go to the library to wade though the micro-film but it was
difficult to nail down your search item.)

But now, through the magic of the Internet, you can gain instant access
to some gold nuggets of data that can dramatically improve your

The state's two largest newspapers of record, the Detroit Free Press and
Detroit News permit you to do so (back to about 1997-98). However,
recognizing the value (and revenue generator) of this source, the
Detroit News (like other major national dailies) are charging $1.95 for
any article in their pre-1998 archive going back to 1982. Significantly,
"there is NO charge for articles retrieved in searches performed at
Michigan public, school and academic libraries participating in the 
Access Michigan program. The Detroit News does NOT have an archive yet.

Not to be a knee-jerk booster of the anti-union paper, I should say that
the $1.95 charge at most national papers sounds pricey to me, a little
like automatic teller bank fees. Maybe someone out there can do the
research to discover how much profit they're making on this service. I
know that I'd use it more if the charge was, say, a dime or $0.25 (the
cost of photo-copying).  

Unfortunately, my own newspaper of record the Lansing State Journal,
does not yet have a search engine on its web site. But you CAN call the
paper and speak to its librarian in the Morgue, and humbly request that
he or she do a search for you on their internal computers.

I encourage you all to use this resource.  Gebbie Press publishes the
All-In-One Media Directory which lists TV, Radio, Magazines, Daily,
Weekly newspapers , Black and Hispanic media, networks, news syndicates,
AP/UPI bureaus...and more... in the USA. Go there and look up the
newspaper of record for the city/area for which you are doing
environmental research, whether it be Michigan or elsewhere: 


Happy Hunting!

In Solidarity,

Brian McKenna, Ph.D.
Environmentalist &
"If there are connections everywhere, why do we persist in turning
dynamic, interconnected phenomena into static, disconnected things?"
          -- Eric R. Wolf, Anthropologist (1923-1999)

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