Learning Search

Is Bing News Worth Using? (Spoiler: Yes)

Google News has dominated news search as completely Google has with its Web search. With over 50,000 sources as of 2013,  you might wonder if you need any other free service when you’re looking for news.

Yes, you do. And I’ve got a suggestion for you: Bing News. It looks a bit plain compared to Google News, and hides its features in a frustrating way, but I find that Bing News search can bring you materials that you’d find above and beyond Google News. You just need to know a few tricks to get to them.

Introducing Bing News

Bing got the current incarnation of its news search in 2008. Its design looks a little stuck in 2008 as well.

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There’s not a lot of help here. Google News offers an easy way to get to the advanced search, and the ability to quickly save search results as alerts or RSS feeds. Bing News search is more like “Well, here I am!” Let’s start with a simple search.

Basic Bing News Search

Bing is fine with a basic keyword or phrase search. Let’s do “digital archive”:

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I do like how Bing simply denotes the age of a news story with a notation by the name of the story source. Bing offers refinements to this search at the top of the screen on the results bar. You can limit your search to a time span (up to 30 days) and you can sort your results by most recent or best match (it defaults to best match.)

This sounds pretty pedestrian especially compared to Google News’ extended search, doesn’t it? But Bing News also offers a couple of special search syntax; they’re just not easy to find on the news page.

In Title Search

Bing News offers a special syntax that should look familiar: intitle. It works just like Google News’ intitle search, finding your keywords only in the title of an article.

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If you’ve done any kind of special syntax search at all, you’ll find intitle familiar. Now, Bing News location search is a little different.

Bing News Location Search

Google News’ location search syntax is location:xx and allows you to search by country (location:nz) or state (location:oklahoma). Bing News’ is loc, not location, and appears to allow searching only by country, not state.

For example: Google loc:in will get you stories from India sources which contain the word Google. It appears you can search by country codes; there’s a list of them here.

Unfortunately, searching on more obscure countries brings to light a bit of weirdness in the Bing News index. Searching for Google loc:uz (the country code for Uzbekistan) finds relevant results, but also includes a spam result from the Madison County Courier (for some reason) and what looks like a random page from BritishAirways.com.

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There is good material in the search results along with the junk, and the junk’s avoidable, so I can go with it (I wish I could understand the Madison County Herald thing, though.)

Bing News does allow you to save your news searches as “interests” but as far as I can tell a) you have to have a Microsoft account and b) you have to be logged in. But there’s another way to keep track of Bing News searches, and Bing does not make it easy to find!

Monitoring Bing News Search Results as RSS Feeds

You can turn Bing News search results into RSS feeds, but it’s really complicated. Okay? You might have to read these instructions a few times. Ready?

… add &format=rss to your Bing News search results.

Like so: http://www.bing.com/news?q=Google+loc%3anz&format=rss .

That’s it, that’s all there is to it. Why Bing doesn’t make a bigger deal out of this is beyond me.

There is There There (With Apologies to Gertrude Stein)

What might you expect to find in Bing News search that you wouldn’t find elsewhere?

In my experience Bing News tends to have more local stories than Google News. It also has me! That is to say, Bing News indexes at least some articles from ResearchBuzz (not the twice-a-weekday news roundups, but the how-to and news articles) while Google News does not. Based on this I would guess that Bing News indexes more news and articles from small (okay, tiny) publishers like me.

(As ResearchBuzz has no advertising, and therefore doesn’t really benefit from the traffic driven to it by Bing News, I’m not sure this is a conflict of interest, but to make it clear: this is not sponsored, I don’t think Bing knows me, I’m not being paid for this, do not feed Happy Fun Ball after midnight, etc.)

Bing News can’t replace Google News as your regular news search – based on my searches it doesn’t have as many sources, and its special syntax is more limited. But as a supplement, it’s perfect – especially when it’s so easy to make RSS feeds to follow the topics you like.

How easy? Oh, we’ll talk about that tomorrow. See you there.

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