News Scraper vs. News API: What Should You Use?
News data plays a pivotal role in informing, connecting, and shaping both the digital and physical realms. It is a real-time window into the world, offering up-to-the-minute information that is invaluable for decision-makers, businesses, and policymakers. Accurate and reliable news data empowers leaders to react swiftly to unfolding situations – from natural disasters to market trends and geopolitical developments.
News data also powers mission-critical organizational solutions, like media intelligence for real-time insights into industry trends, and brand sentiment, risk intelligence for more accurate risk assessment, brand protection to uncover and mitigate brand threats, and more.
How is quality news data collected? Every organization has different uses for news data and needs to select a collection solution that best serves their unique needs. In this blog post, we’ll compare and contrast the two leading news data collection tools: news APIs and news scrapers.
What is a news API?
A news API is a digital interface that allows developers to access and retrieve structured news web data. It enables organizations and individuals to automatically access, extract, scan, analyze, and enrich real-time or archived news content without manually visiting each news source.
News APIs offer built-in utilities that help developers integrate news data seamlessly into their platforms. They streamline the process of accessing up-to-date news information and are commonly used by news aggregators, content analysts, and a range of other data monitoring and analytics solutions. Advanced news APIs leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) to automatically recognize categories, sentiments, topics, persons, dates, events, and other parameters. This data is then tagged with contextual meta-data and delivered in a machine-readable format that existing software can use.
A news API offers numerous advantages, including real-time web data feeds that seamlessly access news sources, alongside filters that ensure you get only the data feeds you need. News API feeds deliver unified content in multiple languages from around the world, with standardized dates and timestamps, a predefined data structure, and the ability to generate unlimited queries based on keywords and categories. News APIs also offer high-quality, structured web data – simplifying the automation of data preparation and normalization and enabling smoother integration of data into applications.
What is a news scraper?
A news scraper is a software that visits specific news websites and retrieves news articles and relevant information. News scrapers are commonly used by news organizations, researchers, and data analysts to aggregate content from news sources online.
News scrapers offer some advantages for data collection. They enable precise control over data collected – meaning you can specify exactly which sources, websites, or RSS feeds to scrape in order to get the precise content needed. In contrast, news APIs provide data feeds from various sources and not necessarily from a specific site. News scrapers are also highly customizable – meaning you can tailor scraping to retrieve specific data fields or attributes (headlines, article text, publication dates, author names, etc.). This level of customization is not available in all news APIs. Finally, a news scraper can offer access to restricted sources – accessing and collecting data from sources that block news API crawlers.
Yet while news scrapers offer numerous advantages, they are not without their challenges and limitations. News scrapers are very limited in scale – data can be scraped based only on a predefined list of specific databases, URLs, or reports. Maintaining and scaling news scrapers can be a complex task, as websites often change their structure and content presentation. This leaves developers to pick up the slack – managing lists of crawled websites and constantly monitoring and manually adjusting scraper scripts.
Moreover, news scraper data quality and reliability can be problematic, as news sources may contain inaccuracies, outdated information, or inconsistencies that require careful handling. What’s more, many news scrapers don’t provide normalized data, demanding manual preparation and normalization for use for AI/ML models. Finally, scraping websites carries legal and ethical concerns, since it may infringe on copyright or terms of service agreements.
Key differences between news APIs and news scrapers
News scraping is usually a hands-on, do-it-yourself skill. News scraping users manually create a list of preferred data sources – often databases with information from websites. The data retrieved through this ad-hoc scraping frequently lacks uniformity. This makes news scraping acceptable for small-scale operations that rely on predefined lists of specific databases, URLs, or reports. It can also work for organizations with in-house developer resources – since managing the scraping process typically falls on their shoulders, and data often requires manual preparation and normalization before it can be used. Scraping is suitable for lower budgets – especially since it is complex and pricey to scale with a scraper.
In contrast, a news API offers a more convenient, out-of-the-box solution with built-in advanced crawling capabilities. Advanced news APIs provide access to data feeds from global news sources with a single query. They offer unified and structured content, including standardized dates and timestamps. Designed for large-scale operations, news APIs allow for an unlimited feed of web data generated through queries such as keywords, categories, and locations. And their simplified management based on user-friendly APIs lowers the burden on developers. Finally, news APIs provide high-quality, structured data that makes it easier to automate data preparation and normalization for machine learning applications.
News Scrapers vs. News APIs
|News Scrapers||News APIs|
|Product||Low budget, self-defined, and maintained list of data sources||Ready out of the box with comprehensive news data feeds|
|Types of Data||Data drawn from databases populated from specified sources||Feeds collected from millions of open news and media websites|
|Data Formats||Content is not always unified or normalized for use||Unified and normalized content (unified dates, timestamps, etc.)|
|Scalability||Small scale, based on a predefined list of specific databases, URLs, or reports||Highly scalable — unlimited query-based news data feed|
|Management||Hands-on developer management of crawled website lists and scraping tools||Easy-to-use APIs leave developers largely out of the loop|
|Machine Learning||Scraped data requires manual preparation and normalization for use in models||High-quality, structured data, for easy automation of data preparation and normalization|
How to choose between news APIs and news scrapers?
News scraping is a hands-on, DIY approach that requires manual creation and maintenance of a list of preferred data sources and often results in unstructured data. It’s suitable for small-scale operations and organizations with readily available in-house developer resources. You can learn how to create your own scraper in this handy guide.
On the other hand, news APIs offer a more powerful solution with structured data from a wider range of sources. This makes them a great fit for large-scale operations, automated solutions, and machine-learning applications. To decide which news API is right for your needs, we created this list of the five key qualities the news API you choose needs to have.
Webz.io’s News API is a comprehensive tool that compiles news from millions of online sources in more than 170 languages, including historical data dating back to 2008. In addition to this, Webz.io provides other APIs that complement your data-gathering efforts by automatically collecting data from blogs, forums, and e-commerce sites. Webz.io’s API employs natural language processing (NLP) to help you filter by sentiment and pre-set category of each article. Then, Webz.io organizes and enhances web data, making it easily digestible for monitoring platforms, and delivers it in near real-time.
Talk to one of our data experts today to explore how Webz.io’s News API can help scale the data pool of your automated monitoring or analysis solution experts.