Journalists in the United Kingdom will have much wider access to higher education through two free Internet services being launched by the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals.
ExperNet is a service for journalists and writers seeking expert comment through a network of university information officers connected by the Joint Academic Network (Janet). CVCP press office staff will, from next month, broadcast journalists' requests for expert comment to UK universities. Press offices will get the experts to respond directly to the inquirer by phone, fax, email or hard copy.
HE News is also to be launched next month and is aimed at media professionals who have access to the Internet. Those who subscribe to the email mailing list will receive press statements from universities. Press officers Paul Clarke (email email@example.com) and Ted Nield (firstname.lastname@example.org) can offer further details of the services.
Many universities now publish directories of academic experts for use by the media, but Edinburgh University has gone a step further by launching an electronic media guide on the World-Wide Web.
After journalists have registered their names and password, they can access more than 1,300 up-to-date entries on staff members and their research interests. Giles Sutherland, editor of the university's electronic information system Edinfo, said: "The online media directory uses the available technology to its best advantage, and is an efficient method of searching a database."
The list may be searched by subject, department or name. By keying in "robotics" or simply "robot", a journalist would gain a list of staff in this field and specialisations, with direct phone numbers, fax numbers and, where available, personal email links or links to departmental Web pages. Edinburgh University's media directory is at http://www.ed.ac.uk/edinfo/PUBS/DIREXP/DIREXP FORM.html