Most news organisations, large and small, now have their own sites. Some include feeds of breaking news, while others offer searchable archives. What follows is a selection of some of the more useful sites from a British perspective: but it also offers tips on how to find any organisations not mentioned here.
The news broadcasters have good sites. The BBC's main news site is excellent and includes a searchable archive. It also offers video and audio feeds. It's free, which is becoming a rarity.
All the British newspapers have web editions, some more useful than others. The Daily Telegraph was the first and is still probably the most comprehensive. Its archive goes back to 1996. Unfortunately, the site now requires you to register before you can really use it. You do not, however, have to use your real name and the site has no way of checking any of the details you give it.
The Guardian and Observer group is the other great enthusiast for the web. Its site is free, including the archive, and it does not require registration as yet. The only drawback — if you like the Guardian — is that its archive does not go back as far as some.
The Times and Sunday Times have a joint site. You are allowed to see stories from the past seven days for nothing. Further back (the archive goes back to 1985), and you have to pay. You can search for nothing, but to read the articles you find you will be charged £1 per item, with reductions for bulk orders.
If business is your main interest, you are probably already using FT.com, which offers access to a huge range of other business sources as well as its own archives. If you have a specific London query, try the Evening Standard site. The tabloids have sites too, but their journalistic usefulness varies.
The mobile phone company Orange offers Ananova, although it seems to have killed off the cyber-babe virtual newsreader of the same name. Quick off the mark, and good for quirky stuff. Reuters has a breaking news page: the same feed also goes to various "portals".
If you are looking for news sites outside London or outside Britain, you will need a dedicated directory. The best is probably Paperboy. Despite its strange name and atrocious visuals, this site will take you straight to sites for local and regional newspapers all over the world. If you favour a more academic presentation, the Special Libraries Associatin in America has lists of searchable archives in the US and around the world. Gary Price's invaluable Direct Search site has a vast section on news sources and serials.
Magazines and online publications
Magazines are less well represented on the web, especially those produced by British publishers. Many now have their own sites, which can be found through MagazineBoy, a companion site to Paperboy that provides a search box to help you find more than 1700 magazines around the world. It does not provide searchable content, however.
For that you should try MagPortal, which lets you search across 150 publications, including Forbes, Premiere and the Scientific American, or FindArticles, which offers 300 journals and magazines, including the British Medical Journal, the New Statesman and History Today. Some, but by no means all, are free.
MagPortal has kindly provided a search box for you to try:
There are also plenty of publications that only appear online. In many cases they are in advance of their printed equivalents and have a more lively relationship with their readers and sources. In their different ways, online magazines such as The Drudge Report, Ain't It Cool News, Salon, Smoking Gun, and our own NTK and The Register are redefining publishing. All are worth a look.
Clearly, masses of professionally published material is available online. But using the web alone will not allow you to say definitively that something has, or has not, appeared in print. If you need to do that, you can get closer by subscribing to one of the paid content services. Try lexis-nexis. Have your credit card handy.