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Digital How-To.


You have questions; has answers

Those who don't work for newspapers probably would be surprised at how much our newsrooms feel the impact of the end of summer vacation and the approach of a new school year. You can virtually tell time by the changing expressions on the faces of your education reporters as September approaches. Watch them begin to think again about staffing school board meetings, sorting out education budgets, and fielding phone calls from parents and teachers about everything from class projects to hot issues regarding cold school buildings.

But that's nothing. These days, the education staff's main job is making the future safe for printed journalism. They do that by trying to answer their editors' constant calls for fresh stories that will appeal to the paper's most sought-after prize: the hearts and minds (and readership) of Generation Next.

OK, so how do you win school-age readers away from the Web, MTV, and the mall? Why, by helping them with their homework, of course! At least, that's a start.

And you can begin by incorporating in your back-to-school package a story about this week's featured Web site, a resource called Sure, few kids want to think about term papers right now, in the last precious weeks of summer, but by this time next month, you could be a local hero for pointing out this important collection of topics, ideas, and assistance for school-related research projects. And who knows? The tool -- provided by Infonautics Corp. in partnership with Macmillan Publishing USA Inc. and Purdue University -- might even help the research of your reporters as well.

Visit the site at http://www.research, where a compact introductory screen links its visitors to these main components:

"Idea Directory." This is a collection of more than 4,000 research topics across more than 100 categories. Browse by categories or search for relevant information by using either the on-site Web search engine or the Electric Library, an archive of thousands of newspapers, magazines, books, and photographs.

"Research Central," also known as the "Discussion Area." This is intended for visitors to share tips and advice in message boards/discussion groups devoted to assorted categories, including "Arts & Entertainment," "Business," "Current Events," "English & Literature," "Famous People," "History," "Science," "Social Issues," and, most interestingly, "Everything Else."

"Writing Center." This section is meant to help students improve the style and presentation of their reports, with advice on subjects such as good note-taking and adjective selection. Topics range from outlines to citation of sources, from parts of speech to sentence construction, and from punctuation to spelling. There are even sections on professional writing and English as a second language.

You can search the site by clicking the "Search" icon on the command bar at the top of the introductory page. The resulting screen provides two data-entry boxes: one for searching the "Idea Directory," the other for searching the entire Web site. Enter the keyword or phrase in the appropriate box and click the adjacent "Search" button.

Other considerations for featuring in your news columns:

1 If you're looking for students to interview -- and don't mind cyberspace's sometimes synthetic reality -- note the site now has an active chat room where students have been known to take a study break. Reach it from the "Chat Room" icon on the introductory page.

2Looking for more school and research-related Web sites that you can cite in future education stories? Click on the "Discussion Area" icon on the main page, then scroll the resulting screen to find the Web "Hot Spots" link. This takes you to a discussion group devoted to visitors' favorite Web sites and the best places to find information.

3Got a reporter with some basic writing skills problems? The "Writing Center," while intended for students, can benefit beginning professionals who missed the finer points somewhere along the way. "The Parts of Speech" area has sections on topics such as active and passive verbs, the use of pronouns, and understanding participles, infinitives, and appositives. And check the "Sentence Construc- tion" section for discussions on parallel construction, dangling modifiers, run-on sentences, and sentence fragments.
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Article Details
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Author:Bowen, Charles
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 7, 2000
Previous Article:Calendar.

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