IBM Personal Computing
Donald B. Trivette
Fishing in The Washington Post
If you think that Dow Jones News/Retrieval is a source for business and financial information, you're right; but it also has a considerable amount of general information such as book and movie reviews, weather reports, sports scores, and even a discount shopping service. And there's one rich deposit of consumer information that's often overlooked because it's stashed away with the business data.
The DJNR has a full-text search and retrieval service for a variety of business and financial publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Dow Jones News Service, Forbes, Barron's, and The American Banker. It also has electronic copies of The Washington Post dating back to January 1984, and the issues of that newspaper are full of consumer-oriented columns and features.
Let's check out what the Post has to say about saltwater fishing. We'll assume that you have a modem, communications software, and an account with Dow Jones News/Retrieval, and that you know how to use all three. If not, you can open a News/Retrieval account by by calling 1-800-257-5114 (toll-free) or 1-609-452-1511 (in New Jersey). After signing-on to DJNR, type //TEXT to bring up the text-retrieval database and to display the opening menu. This is the point where you select The Washington Post—number 3 on the menu—as the source you want to search.
//TEXT prompts for your input by typing a number; you may enter queries in upper- or lowercase letters, but do not use any punctuation like commas or periods. The DJNR Guide shows many examples of how to enter search terms. The first thing I do in //TEXT is turn on the detail switch so I can see the particulars of a search. Notice that //TEST commands begin with two periods; this is to distinguish them from search terms.
1: ..set detail = on
Next we want to look for articles—documents is the term DJNR uses—that have to do with fishing. These could contain the word fish, fisherman, fishing, or some other variation of fish, so we'll use the //TEXT wild-card symbol to look for fish with any ending. (This works much like the * symbol in DOS DIR.)
|DJ/NRS||PAGE 1 OF 11|
|E1417 * TOO MANY WORDS FOR FISH$—QUERY ACCEPTED WITH WORDS AND COUNTS FOR TERM ONLY UP TO THE OVERFLOW.|
After a minute, DJNR reports more than three thousand documents in The Washington Post database that contain fish in the text. It then it starts to list the first of 11 pages. Obviously, this is too many for us to review; we need to narrow our search to a more manageable size. Let's try entering (SPORT OR SPORTS) SAME AS FISHING for a search term. This says we're looking for all articles that have the words sport or sports in the same paragraph as the word fishing. The results are:
|2: (sport or sports) same fishing|
|00002 (SPORT OR SPORTS) SAME FISHING|
Now we're down to something more manageable, but we still can't review 143 documents. Suppose we also restrict the search to those articles that contain the word saltwater. We don't have to reenter the search term used in number 2, but rather we can add to it as follows:
|3: 2 same saltwater|
|DJ/NRS SEARCH MODE|
|00003 2 SAME SALTWATER|
|2 (SPORT OR SPORTS) SAME||143 DOC|
Now we're down to just five articles. We could print all of these and use the capture feature of the communications software to save a copy in a disk file for leisurely reading when we're offline. But downloading even five documents can take a long time, and, since DJNR charges by the minute, we want to minimize the length of time we're connected. Instead, we want to review the headlines (HL) of these five documents along with the dates (DD) they were written, then decide which ones are worth a further look.
An alternate strategy is to read the first page of each of the five articles and then make a decision. I suppose a professional researcher would choose that method since it's more thorough, but it does take longer—and I've had very good results looking at just the headlines. It's very important to include the accession number (AN) in the display because, once we've decided on an article, we can use that number to retrieve the document without having to redo the search.
We'll use the ..CP (Continuous Print) command so the display won't pause at each screen—however this command is dangerous to use for anything that might produce a large amount of output because there's no way to stop it. Even if we hang up the telephone, the computer will continue to "print" the information and we'll get charged for a lot of time. The ..P (print) command pauses after each screenful of information, giving us a chance to stop the printing. Nevertheless, ..CP is safe enough for just printing headlines.
|4: ..CP HL,DD,AN/DOC = 1-5|
|HL||INFORMATION FOR FISHERMEN: THESE FOLKS CAN HELP YOU OUT|
To save space, I've included only the first headline, but some of the other titles were "Fishermen Take Last Legal Rockfish" and "Sporting Life." We can print this article now by entering ..CP/DOC = 1 (don't forget to turn on capture so you'll save a copy to disk), or we can logout of Dow Jones News/Retrieval and go back next week or next month to print the article. For example, there's no need for you to reproduce the search if you'd like to read this piece: Just enter a search term to locate the article by its accession number (1: 840323-0057.AN.), and then enter the ..CP /DOC = 1 command to print it.
Using the //TEXT database can be a little intimidating for first-time users, but the key to success—as in most things—is advanced planning. Write down search terms and commands before you call DJNR, and leave the capture active during the entire session. That way you'll have a record of everything. Good fishing.
Donald B. Trivette is the author of A Guide to Dow Jones News/Retrieval published by COMPUTE! Books.