Case Studies: GERMNEWS


By Rainer M. Mallon, GERMNEWS Editor
June 2004

LISTSERV Choice Awards

"10 years ago I got a short e-mail from university colleagues doing a 12-month study stint in the United States. They asked me one simple question: 'What do you reckon, is that Kohl guy still Chancellor? We can't get any news here about what's going on at home.' This simple question and remark were good enough reasons to start the German News project," explains Rainer M. Mallon, editor of the GERMNEWS daily e-mail newsletter.

As weeks went by, with 400 people being interested in the news, it became necessary to set up an online mailing list. It only took a short time for the list's capacity to be exceeded, which led to a short outage of the service. With the help of the GMD (now Fraunhofer Institute) in St. Augustin near Bonn, and with the additional assistance of the Section of Applied Processing of Information at Ulm University, a stable method of distribution was reached using L-Soft's LISTSERV e-mail list management software and LSMTP e-mail delivery software.

"Essentially our approach has not changed a bit since the beginning. We gather the news during the day and compile it into e-mail in the evening to be sent to our subscribers," says Rainer M. Mallon. "It's always interesting to find out who reads our news, and how it is disseminated. During the first years, I was amazed how far we got geographically. We made it to the bulletin boards of Goethe Institutes and German departments of universities and even to the Polar Star, the Alfred-Wegener research ship in the Arctic. We also kept German astronaut Thomas Reiter up-to-date while on board the Space Station Mir."

The volunteer editors and translators who create the non-profit GERMNEWS all work for free in their own spare time. Because the German News project is absolutely non-commercial, it is not possible to access feeds from news agencies like Dpa or Reuters. The sole purpose of this invaluable and widely read e-mail newsletter was, and remains to this day, to provide information about what is happening in Germany, to whoever is interested.

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