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The Deseret News today launched its online electronic newspaper, called the Crossroads Information Network. It will be available to home computers throughout the country.

Crossroads is offered free to subscribers of the Deseret News and to others at a monthly cost of less than $10. It will contain the full text of all news articles in the paper and much more, Wm. James Mortimer, publisher and editor, said in announcing the new service."We think this will be an exciting new supplement to the paper," he said. "We have spent more than a year developing the software to provide an extremely easy way to get the information into home computers. We've also made it a big priority to offer high quality graphics with the service."

In addition to the complete text of the paper itself, the service will offer access to the Deseret News archives, daily classified ads, LDS Church News, the new LDS Church Almanac and daily fantasy basketball updates for players. It will have frequently updated sports scores, stock market and weather reports. Utah's universities will also contribute information to the network.

An e-mail feature will allow users to communicate with any other Crossroads subscriber. In addition, e-mail access to the Internet will be offered soon.

Crossroads will offer more information than is in the newspaper itself, said Steve Hawkins, online news editor. Freed from the limits of tight news holes, the newspaper will be able to offer supplemental stories from its many wires services and such valuable data as complete texts of speeches and reports. The wire services contributing to the report include the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, the New York Times News Service and Scripps Howard News Service (both of which include many of the country's leading newspapers), and the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service.

While wire stories will be updated continuously on Crossroads, the complete newspaper will be available by about 1 p.m. each day, or after midnight on weekends.

A key part of Crossroads will be its linkage into the Deseret News archives, which have been in electronic form since 1988. Readers will be able to quickly find copies of stories from the past by using a key word search, and then will be able to easily download the information into their home computers.

Another key feature is Crossroads' use of graphics and photographs from news sources. They can also be "clipped" for use at home.

In order to use Crossroads, subscribers need at least a 386/25 personal computer. A 486 is recommended. They will also need Win-dows 3.1 software, a 2400 baud modem or better and at least four megabytes of RAM. (See related stories inside this section.)

"We chose to go this route because of our emphasis on ease of use and on graphics," said Stewart Shelline, director of information services and the principal architect behind Crossroads. "However, we plan to have it available soon for Macintosh users, and we may come up with a strictly DOS version."

The Crossroads software will be sent free to subscribers of the daily Deseret News. They will have 30 hours of free online usage per month. Nonsubscribers will pay $9.95 a month. Sunday-only subscribers will be charged $2.25 a month, and Church News-only subscribers who live outside Utah will pay $8.50 a month. Users who consume more than 30 hours a month will be charged $2 an hour.

Toll-free telephone access is available in the Salt Lake metropolitan area. Other areas will pay their normal long-distance charges. However, the ability to quickly download stories into home computers and read them later should help reduce those costs.

To set up a Crossroads account, call 237-2176. The paper will send you a disk with the appropriate software to run the program.