James S. Derk
Scripps Howard News Service

How much of the newspaper you are reading did you really read?

If you're like most people, you scanned the stories, ads and photos and stopped only to read the items that caught your fancy.

What if a computer could do that for you?

Turns out, they can. And it's pretty interesting.

Several new services have been launched that create a personalized newspaper. The only news included is news you want to read. No Bosna, no Serbs, no Newt.

The most impressive of these is NewsHound, a service of the San Jose Mercury-News on the Internet. For $4.95 a month, the sergices scans all the stories and classified ads it can find for topics you want to read about. When it receives "hits," the stories (and ads if you want) are mailed your E-mail box.

It's a pretty impressive service. Reach it at (http://www.sjmercury.com/hound.html)

What if you don't have five bucks a month?

Take a peek at Crayon.

Also on the Internet's World Wide Web, this service, which got its name from the letters in "CReAte Your Own Newspaper," does about the same thing on a smaller scale.

It keeps a database of Internet URLs (addresses) and searches them each day for things you want to read about. Basically, it mooches the content from news sources and other free places on the Web. Then it gathers it all up for you in one package.

This to me is why newspapers and other so-called "content providers" ought to be worried if they are not doing something online for their customers. Do you know who is providing the service for Crayon's 50,000 subscribers?

It's not Knight-Ridder, Gannett, Scripps Howard or some other media giant. It's two college kids from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa.

Co-founder Jeff Boulter said he started Crayon because he was "trapped in the bubble" of college life. "I didn't really know what was going on out there in the real world and I wanted a quick and cheap way to keep up to date," he says. "Then one day I was extraordinarily bored in one of my classes and I came up with the idea of a customized newspaper broken up into sections."

It's a great service and growing all the time, although a recent posting notes some additions had to be slowed because of final exams.

Take a look at Crayon (http://www.eg.bucknell.edu/~boulter/crayon/ and see if you're not impressed.

I've been developing some World Wide Web pages so reporters can have a starting point for finding things on the Internet. Take a look, make suggestions and offer some thoughts. There might be some sites you want to reach, too. Thake a loook and keep checking back: (http://www.evansville.net/~courier/newsroom.html)
Drop in on the conversations on "alt.dss" to see if one of those little satllite dishes is in your cards. I think I want one.
Try "http://www.mnemonic.sony.com" for the media blitz on the film "Johnny Mnemonic."
James S. Derk is a computer research editor for The Evansville Courier in Indiana and co-sysop of Courier Online. His e-mail address is JDERK@evansville.net.