Newsstand

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Newsstand has resisted up to now the lure of looking at online newspapers. They're so ... well, so professional - about as far removed from the archetypal home-brewed Webzine as you can get. Of course, these days many Webzines are themselves far removed from the archetypal, home- brewed Webzine. So we couldn't hold out for ever.

Happily, by holding out thus far we've allowed time for the granddaddy of the UK online newspapers, Electronic Telegraph - updated daily, of course - to grow itself a weekly 'zine appendage called etcetera (ETcetera - geddit?). But let's start with news.

There's plenty of it. On Friday morning, the front page (leading with a poll prediction that Chirac's right-wing coalition would be returned to government in France) had three or four other main stories.

But tucked away in the International, UK news, City and sports sections there were scores more stories, each with a two-line summary as well as a headline, to help you decide whether to click through.

Go behind a headline and you get a good, meaty story plus the bonuses peculiar to the Web - links to related stories earlier in the week, links to related external sites. And at the bottom of each of the headline pages, a button takes you back to yesterday's version - so you can easily catch up on any days you have missed.

What this adds up to is an impressive resource. If it's news you're after - including such items as detailed cricket match reports - it's difficult to see why you would want to pay for a printed paper rather than rely on Electronic Telegraph. Unless, of course, you want to read your news on the way to work, or in the bath, or in bed, or ...

Etcetera is published on Saturday. Last week's edition had six or seven front-page features, all of them worth a look. Then there are departments: travel, motoring, home/garden, arts/books, fashion, food and drink, science.

There's a lot of material here, and the features, like the news items, have links. A fascinating profile of John Prescott by Susan Crosland, for example, ends with links to half a dozen news stories about Prescott over the last month or two.

Then there's UP@ET - original feature material that seems to have something to do with students. And Money-Go-Round. And cartoons; weather; classifieds, horoscopes; and so on.

This rich site has a comprehensive range of ways to get at things: besides the normal button bars, there's an A-Z index of sections, a bloated-graphic site map and a search engine that accesses the content of ET going back to November 1994.

The site is still protected by a tedious registration process, but you can leave a bookmark inside the wall so you don't have the chore of re- entering your username and password, should you decide to go back. I certainly will. Chris Gill

Electronic Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk

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