On Jan 2 2021, the newsrack service has been shut down permanently.

It has been a nice long run from the Sarai days in 2004 to being hosted on its own domain around 2006. Beside maintenance, there has been no real active development on the code or the features since early 2008. Since 2015, even all that maintenance was pretty bare bones. A lot of news sources no longer provide reliable RSS feeds and since mid 2018, there were growing issues with the service and I only kept it alive to assist a handful of users.

So, it was time to shut this down. The internet world in 2020 is vastly differently from 2003 when I first conceptualized this service. Thanks for using this all these years.

This is an archive of previously crawled content that will be kept around for a few weeks.

 

About NewsRack

NewsRack is a tool/service for classifying, filing, and long-term archiving of news. Users specify filtering rules which are used to select relevant articles from incoming news feeds. The selected articles are then classified into various categories. This process is similar to the process of specifying email filters to pre-sort incoming mail into various folders.

Visit a selection of news categories from profiles of various users or else browse the entire public archives to see some examples of news classification into categories.



Motivation

Several organizations in the social development sector monitor news that is relevant to their work. This is a time-consuming and laborious process for some groups, especially when the news is monitored, marked, cut, and filed using hard copies of newspapers and magazines. The issue here is not so much that this is a manual process, as much as that organizations have a hard time keeping up. This is very much the case in India. However, using web versions of newspapers and magazines, news monitoring can be made easier. In this context, the broad goal of this project is to aid the news monitoring for organizations and researchers.

An auxilliary goal is to enable analysis of media coverage, a task that, increasingly seems to be one of the strengths of NewsRack. It is already possible, by defining appropriate filtering rules and topics, and to track how media covers a particular issue, and what slants are given more coverage over others.



Conceptual Model:

The image below shows the conceptual design of NewsRack. Stripped to the bone, NewsRack takes input news feeds and generates a set of categorized news feeds based on filtering rules that you specify. You could use these output news feeds in your favourite news aggregator, or you can let NewsRack organize this information for you into categories letting you and others browse through them.

NewsRack Conceptual Diagram


Known limitations:

  • Currently, NewsRack can only process news from news sources that provide RSS feeds. For sites without RSS feeds, work is ongoing to provide support via site-specific crawlers. For now, there is a functioning crawler for several papers (even though they do not provide RSS feeds). But, there is no generic solution for other sites yet. This mean that news from such newspapers cannot be monitored at this time till such time they provide RSS feeds or till a crawler becomes available.
  • Creating profiles is not straightforward. Users are expected to write rules to tell NewsRack what to do. Work is in progress to make this more user-friendly.