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4.5. Making the Most of Google News

The best thing about Google News is its clustering capability. On an ordinary news search engine, a breaking news story can overwhelm search results. For example, in late July 2002, a story broke that hormone replacement therapy might increase the risk of cancer. Suddenly, using a news search engine to find the phrase "breast cancer" was an exercise in futility, because dozens of stories around the same topic were clogging the results page.

That doesn't happen when you search the Google News engine because Google groups similar stories by topic. You'd find a large cluster of stories about hormone replacement therapy, but they'd be in one place, leaving you to find other news about breast cancer.

Some searches cluster easily; they're specialized or tend to spawn limited topics. But other queries (such as "George Bush") spawn lots of results and several different clusters. If you need to search for a famous name or a general topic (such as crime, for example) narrow your search results in one of the following ways:

  • Add a topic modifier that will significantly narrow your search results, as in: "George Bush" environment crime arson.

  • Limit your search with one of the special syntaxes, for example: intitle:"George Bush".

  • Limit your search to a particular source. Be warned that, while this works well for a major breaking news story, you might miss local stories. If you're searching for a major American story, CNN is a good choice (source:cnn). If the story you're researching is more international in origin, the BBC works well (source:bbc_news).

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