Navy delivers top-notch Guam coverage; new TRAC site tracks FBI business

The Navy demonstrated the breadth of the World Wide Web and its ability to compress time and distance with the service's online coverage of the Korean Air Lines Flight 801 crash on Guam earlier this month. Thanks to the Web the Navy put Guam - thousands of miles in distance and a day away in time - just a mouse click away from the service's home page (www.navy.mil).

A click on the "What's New" button popped up fresher and more accurate reporting than what is available in some large daily newspapers which repeatedly reported that KAL Flight 801 crashed into Nimitz Hill - headquarters of Commander Naval Forces Marianas - and then fell into a dense jungle. (This is like reporting that a plane crashed into Capitol Hill and then fell into a forest.)

The Navy Web site in a story datelined Aug. 7 the day after the crash accurately reported that the aircraft crashed in the Sasa Valley - behind Nimitz Hill - illustrating the ability of the Web to deliver first-hand local reporting from practically anywhere on the globe to computers worldwide.

In this case the main Navy Web site served as the Web mirror and relay for the Navy's Guam Web site (www.guam.navy.mil) which featured on-the-scene reporting by Dave Furlong editor of the COMNAVMAR paper The Pacific Navigator as well as a series of dramatic photos shot by PH3 Michael Myers and Lt. (jg) Rick Naysatt. The photos are at www.guam.navy.mil/photogra.htm.

The Navy's Guam coverage on the Web continues a news-oriented focus that has served as a hallmark of the service's Web presence since the crash of TWA Flight 800 last year. The ability of the site to serve as the anchor for a breaking news story also demonstrates the commitment made by the Pacific Fleet Public Affairs staff last year to embrace the Web as a news and information tool for itself and all its subordinate commands.

While lacking the immediacy and drama of the Navy Web coverage of the Guam KAL Flight 801 crash the new Web site launched last week by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) operated by Syracuse University(trac.syr.edu) showcases the capability of the Web to derive relevance from seemingly dull federal statistics.

David Burnham the former New York Times reporter who now serves as TRAC's co-director has mastered the art of using the Freedom of Information Act to conduct data-mining operations in secretive federal agencies.

The new TRAC FBI site (www.syr.edu/tracfbi) is "unparalleled for the amount of information it offers on one of the least-monitored federal agencies " according to the "Internet Scout Report."

That information probably will not thrill Web users in the FBI as TRAC concluded after sifting through 23 000 pages of information that "the FBI today focuses the majority of its firepower on drug dealers con artists embezzling money from bank institutions and old-fashioned bank robbers - crimes that can typically be handled by state and local police." TRAC says this means the agency "has less time to investigate the areas where the bureau has primary responsibility: national security organized crime [and] white-collar matters like medical fraud."

Don't expect to find state-of-the-art graphics jumpin' Java applets streaming audio video or other snazzy Web tools on the TRAC site information still wins out over techno-toys.

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