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Destinations: News on the Net that's not network news

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They may not be as well-read or watched as the daily paper or the nightly news, but a lot of folks find alternative news sources great supplemental reading; others swear they are the only sources untainted by corporate philosophies or partisan politics. That's not always the case, as some sites clearly show, and alternative isn't always a euphemism for liberalism, socialism, anarchism or a bunch of other isms.

Free Republic
www.freerepublic.com

A politically conservative news discussion forum, Free Republic is a "loosely organized" grass-roots group trying to undo years of liberal-socialist public policies. If that doesn't explain their members' views of the news, then maybe the Linda Tripp ad banner or the link to a site dedicated to impeaching Attorney General Janet Reno will. The site is designed and runs well, plus it offers a free software download to use for Free Republic's chat rooms. We should mention there's a lot of spleen-venting going on, with most descriptors for the Clinton administration starting with "liar," and "gestapo" and "Big Brother" being tossed about frequently.

CNSNews.com
www.cnsnews.com

This conservative wire service doesn't come off as rabid or paranoid, like many other politically extreme sites that find the Web a marvelous format for reaching millions. CNS has an editorial staff and guest columnists who aren't timid about posting their bylines atop their stories. Sure, the news is somewhat slanted, but the staff doesn't make excuses or pretend to provide anything other than its motto: "The Right News. Right Now." The site also has a personal news manager, so regular visitors can go straight to their favorite topics each time they log on.

Utne Reader Online
www.utne.com

For those unfamiliar with Utne Reader, think of it as a clipping service for alternative news and features from diverse views.

Its sections feature stories on books, health, culture, media, money, the environment, society, technology and travel culled from more than 2,000 publications that aren't sold on every street corner. Some might say that Utne leans too much on the liberal side, but there's more here than ideological swill. Visitors aren't likely to log off with an unexplained passion to tie-dye designer bed sheets or go hug a tree. If populist or progressive arguments upset your stomach, however, stay away.

The MoJo Wire
www.motherjones.com

When nothing short of left-wing muckraking will do, Mother Jones is the ticket. These folks are the perfect counterbalance to the Free Republic page, although they both rail against multinational corporations and government corruption. That aside, abortion rights arguments and gun control efforts are major issues, as well as the environment, exploitation of workers worldwide and rampant consumerism. Here's a place where you can slap the president's lame-duck term around as well as pick on an "equally lame" Republican-controlled Congress.

FLIPSIDE
www.flipside.org

Forget for a moment that this alternative daily newspaper is Canadian. True, it gives at least equal time to issues north of the border, but there's a lot of material here that citizens of the former colonies can appreciate, plus some world views to boot. Like its conservative counterparts, there's a lot of talk about mainstream media distortions, power brokers and filtered truth.The features pages are where to get a good look at what this site is about, such as a running exposé on digital diploma mills, horrors in Yugoslavia and the pervasive evils of the World Trade Organization. But no tie-dye tips.

AJR NewsLink
ajr.newslink.org/news.html

This is a quiet little corner of the American Journalism Review's big Web site that can transport viewers from the hustle and bustle of the big city back to small-town America's homespun news. A listing by state daily and weekly online newspapers can get you to what's going on in Demopolis, Ala., as well as the police blotter in Afton, Wyo. There's no agenda here except to link people to online newspapers, big and small. The page also sends you to lists of alternative, specialty and business publications.

SatireWire
www.fnwire.com

Tired of all the hype on e-commerce being the best thing ever? You're not alone. This site is devoted to lampooning buying and selling online.

Tongue-in-cheek shots include online travel bargains for the na-ve (3,000 percent off). We leave you with a little ditty featured by SatireWire's poet laureate of the Internet, e.e. commerce:"you say (youbray) the sky-in-black but lookagain (donkeyman) see lights the nightstars, pulsating, lovers in the ether net, hear their startupstarsong comehither com-hither hither.com."

Staff writer Tim Wyatt is a veteran researcher and Web wanderer. If you have a comment about or suggestion for Destinations, e-mail it to destinations@dallasnews.com or write to Destinations, Personal Technology, The Dallas Morning News, P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265.
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