What the Echo indexes
Echo index files contain lists of items from the Herald-Sun, The Age and the Australian newspapers. Indexing is of main news and media issues.

Reading items online
Newspaper items which have been indexed during the last year or so can often be found and read online. Therefore, it's worth copying the headline of an item you wish to read, then pasting that headline into a google search. (a google search box can be accessed from every list of items brought up by an Echo search)

You might also take advantage of the Fairfax newspaper group's free facility to search for and download items from their archives going back to 1990. The papers covered include the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age.

How do I search?
Enter words in the search-box (with just a space separating them) and click the search button. If you have chosen your words well, a list made up of groups of items will appear on your screen. If you haven't chosen the words correctly, the list will either not appear, or, if it does appear, will contain items which have nothing to do with your chosen topic.

How do I choose search-words?
Well, for a start, you need to have something to search for. Browsing isn't very rewarding. Echo is not Google and putting a random word in the search-box isn't going to accomplish much.

However, if you're looking for newspaper items on a particular topic, event, or issue, you'll know some of the unique words that might be associated with it. For instance, the 2004-2005 events surrounding the arrest, trial and sentence of Australian woman Schapelle Corby can be found by entering Corby's name, as there aren't too many instances of Schapelle appearing in any headline not to do with the Corby case.

Let's look at a few other examples. Below are some events, topics or issues searches, with likely search-words, which are the words you would expect to see in newspaper headlines about the topic.

Items on logging of native forests: logging forest timber
Items on IVF and fertility treatment: IVF fertility.
Items on greenhouse gases, greenhouse effect, global warming, climate change: greenhouse global warming ....

... so, you'll already have got the idea. You use the obvious words in many, if not most, cases. Try not to overdo it. We strongly recommend that no more than two or three words be used and that, if the first search fails, you get rid of one of the words to see if that helps.

Using the default ALL WORDS facility
By leaving the ALL WORDS box checked, you tell the search engine to look only for item groups that have all of the search-words in it. For example, if the search engine comes across a group with the word timber in it, but not the other word you've used (such as logging) it won't compile that group into the final list.

Using the ANY WORDS facility
By checking the ANY WORDS box, you tell the search engine to look for any of the two or three words you enter in the search-box. How is this useful? Well, if you were looking for items on asteroids and dangers of collisions with Earth, you might also want to include items on comets and meteors, as these bodies also crash into Earth now and then. So, if you use as search-words comet, asteroid, meteor, you'll turn up item groups containing all mentions of any these words.

Using the MATCH CASE facility
The MATCH CASE box, when checked, forces the search engine to look only for words which match your use of upper or lower-case letters. Thus, if you were searching for items on things which may be acronyms, such as AIDS, TAC, IVF, RAF, you can be pretty sure of turning them up.

Why the use of groups? Why not show one item at a time?
Echo indexers update the online database once a week. Therefore, each group of indexed items represents one week of indexing that particular topic, event or issue. By using groups, instead of the individual-item method used in most other databases, a search is more likely to find words which will find the groups. These words will be either in the newspaper headlines indexed, or will have been added by Echo's indexers.

For example, a search of a traditional database for items on the Balkans / Yugoslavia wars will sometimes fail because one or other of the obvious search- words - yugoslavia and balkans - is not mentioned in the headline or the item descriptor, as below:

Headline: Balkans massacre denied by Serbs. Descriptor: This item deals with the Srebrenica massacre

So, a search for yugoslavia would not find the above item - and nor would a search (using the default ALL WORDS) find the group if yugoslavia was used as one of the two or three search-words. In contrast, look at the Echo group below, which was generated as part of a 1996 list:

TIME, July 15, page 31, analysis (photo of Karadzic) 'Bosnia's artful dodger'.
AUST, July 11, page 13, analysis by S Turnbull, 'Bereaved Bosnian families struggle to break cycle of trauma'.
AGE, July 10, page 8, news item, 'Serb gets seven years for rape and 16 murders'.
AGE, July 8, page 6, news item, 'UN team examines mass grave in Bosnia'.
H/SUN, July 7, page 40, news item (photos), 'Serb chief 'saw killing''.
AGE, July 7, page 15, news item (photo of Mladic), 'Sobbing witness tells of slaughter'.
AUST, July 6, page 13, news items (photo), 'Mladic expelled 40,000 refugees: peacekeeper / US, Bildt argue on Karadzic poll plan'.

As you can see, yugoslavia and balkans are present in the group. In this case, Echo indexers have added the words by incorporating them in the bold group description above the items.

If you're not sure of how to search for your particular set of items, you can always let us know via e-mail at office@echoeducation.com.au

If you can't send an e-mail from school, perhaps your teacher or librarian will make the query for you. In either case, we usually answer within a few minutes.

Happy searching.