Ethnic NewsWatch – Reviewed Fall 1994

Reviewed by Shari T. Grove, Boston College July 1994

Ethnic NewsWatch, 1991-. SoftLine Information, Inc., 65 Broad St., Stamford
CT 06801, (203) 975-8292, 1-800-524-7922. Ethnic NewsWatch is available
on an annual, monthly, bimonthly or quarterly basis. Releases are cumulative.
An annual subscription with quarterly cumulative updates costs about $2,200.
Inquire about promotions and discounts when ordering. The 1991-92 backfile
costs $2,995.00 (for 40,000+ full-text articles). Other options are a bimonthly
subscription of 6 discs/year for $2,750, or a monthly subscription of 12
discs/year for $3,599.

Introduction:

Ethnic NewsWatch (ENW) is a full-text CD-ROM database
providing access to articles that appeared in 99 domestic ethnic newspapers
and journals. Only English or Spanish language articles are included. ENW
has easy-to-use menu-driven search software, which permits keyword searching,
among its many useful features. Articles reflect issues from both urban
and rural areas. Although editorial decisions are made by the officers
of the corporation, ENW looks to its editorial board for suggestions and
advice. ENW has a short publishing time lag of between five to eight weeks.
ENW intends to give you the other sides of the stories on issues of local,
national and global importance by providing access to articles published
in the domestic ethnic press. ENW consists of two databases–a database
of full-text periodical articles and a directory of information about the
publications included in the full-text database. The intent of ENW is to
provide access to articles published in the ethnic press. Publications
are predominently secular in nature. ENW provides access to voices on local
and regional issues or concerns which may not be reflected in the mainstream
press.

User instruction:

A printed user guide accompanies ENW. In addition,
most of the user instruction information is either available onscreen or
can be called up on useful help screens, replete with examples. Directions
for searching are available in either English or Spanish. ENW also has
English or Spanish language search options. Although there is no printed
or online thesaurus, one can browse indexes of selected categories, such
as keyword, subject, geographic location, or author in order to determine
the occurance of specific terms in the database. Overall, the system is
user friendly.

Scope and coverage:

At the time of this review, ENW provides approximately
99,000 articles from 99 periodicals from across the United States. While
the majority are weekly publications, daily, biweekly and quarterly newspapers
and magazines also appear. Each title represents one of the following broad
ethnic groups: African American, 35 titles; Hispanic American, 20 titles;
Asian/Pacific Island American, 9 titles; Arabic, 3 titles; Native American,
13 titles; Jewish, 9 titles; and, Eastern European, 8 titles. Coverage
is from 1990. ENW includes indexing and full-text reviews of books, movies,
theater, arts and musical recordings. Articles are currently added at the
rate of 4,000 monthly. Advertisements are excluded. There is no print version
of ENW.

Because a limited number of ethnic publications are indexed in ENW,
one should consult Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media to
identify the range of available ethnic periodicals. Two other helpful publications
are: Ethnic Periodicals in Contemporary America: An Annotated Guide (1990),
compiled by Sandra L. Jones, or The Ethnic Press in the United States:
A Historical Analysis and Handbook (1987), by Sally M. Miller.

Record structure:

ENW is menu-driven. Its commands prompts are available
either in English or Spanish. Searches are entered on the opening menu
screen in selected search fields. Since only broad ethnic group categories
(e. g., African-Americans) are provided, it is best to do a keyword search
for a specific ethnic group (e. g., Haitians). The context-sensitive search
fields are: article key word, subject, title, author, type, publication
date, names of people, geographic location, ethnic group and publication
name. Use of truncation and Boolean search operators are supported. A strong
feature of the database is the specific categories it provides for searching
types of articles. These are: interview, editorial, column, obituaries,
reviews of books, movies, theater, records and television. Forthcoming
additional categories will include biography, food, fashion, sports and
business. Onscreen instructions including function key commands make searching,
printing and downloading very easy.

Comparisons with related databases and summary of positive aspects:

Clearly ENW stands alone as a source for accessing full-text articles in
ethnic publications, and is unrelated to any other database.The principle
value of ENW is access to the domestic ethnic press. For the most part
it is a current newspaper database and reflects people’s voices and concerns
in the popular press. The prospective audience for ENW is very broad. It
makes primary source materials available to undergraduates. ENW might be
of particular interest to communications students. A library subscription
to ENW provides access to articles from 99 ethnic newspapers and journals
without requiring libraries to establish and maintain individual subscriptions
to each of these titles.

Recommendations for improvement:

More editorial and historical information
about the individual publications would be welcome. The addition of a general
on-line index, from which one could select terms and initiate searches,
would be especially helpful.

Other published reviews have appeared in: Booklist. Vol. 90 , No. 18;
May 15, 1994, p.1704-1707; Library Journal. Vol. 118 , No. 7; April 15,
1993, p.136-8; and Multicultural Review. Vol. 2, No. 1; March 1993, p.90.

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