Sree's Stories


WEB SITE SPOTLIGHT / By SREENATH SREENIVASAN
July/August 1998

nando.net

More and more Americans are getting news from the Internet. What kind of journalism do they find there? Web Site Spotlight puts individual sites through a CAT scan. This time it's Nando.net.
http://www.nando.net
Breaking News: strong mix of world and national stories; updated every few minutes.
Original Content: almost none.
Multimedia: little video or audio; some photos.
Navigation & layout: easy to use.
Biggest asset: ability to highlight breaking news.
Biggest liability: weak archives.

It turned four years old this summer, but in Web years, that makes Nando.net a granddad. Also known as The Nando Times, the site started as an online service of the Raleigh News & Observer. It has since become a player in the world of giant news services. But it is about headline news, no more, no less.

In 1995, McClatchy Company (owner of such dailies as the Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Sacramento Bee) bought the News & Observer and gave Nando.net a new identity, divorcing it from the newspaper and making it a sort of all-news radio of the Internet (minus the audio). The site does an impressive job in delivering short stories and updates from around the world and the nation to your desktop.

All-news radio is hard to beat when you need to know the latest latest. People used to more comprehensive coverage by such sites as ABCNews.com or CNN Interactive or MSNBC, however, will be disappointed.

Essentially, Nando repurposes copy from wires such as The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse, and assembles them in easy-to-digest sections like "global," "business," and so forth. Surprisingly, it uses very little material from the McClatchy papers or even The News & Observer. It has almost no archives beyond fourteen days.

Depending on the power and sophistication of your computer, you can pick from three versions of Nando.net with varying degrees of bells and whistles. While it has a clean, uncluttered feel that makes for fast downloading, the minimalist approach leaves something to be desired. Audio and video clips, which can make stories come alive, are rare. The closest the news sections get to multimedia is a page called "Today in Photos" in which the pictures are oddly disconnected from their stories, and a gimmicky "news animation"--how a hurricane moves, for example.

Nando.net has two sister journalism services linked to the site. One is Techserver (www.techserver.com), a section dedicated to technology news. But with several sites on the Web that offer more extensive tech news, Nando is perhaps too basic for technophiles.

Another service is Sportserver (www.sportserver.com), which features top columnists from all over the map and in-depth sports news from various leagues. Proof that Nando is more international than many American news sites: regular coverage of cricket and sumo wrestling.

The site employs tools to make using it easier for a busy surfer. Visitors who personalize the "Interest Alert" or "News Watcher" sections with specific keywords will be automatically alerted when relevant stories appear on the site. That, of course, is one of the serious complaints about the Internet: readers will be more tempted than ever to filter out news they are not interested in. Thus, they may read stories only about, say, horse-racing and wine and the stock market. This is a glimpse into that future.