South Florida

That moment when news in Miami suddenly flashed before our eyes


The news stopped waiting on May 11, 1996.

That’s when HeraldLink, the Miami Herald’s first website, went live.

It happened earlier than planned. ValuJet Flight 592, with 110 people aboard, had just crashed into the Everglades. So the decision was made to press the button and send to computers everywhere.

READ MORE: The day a plane disappeared into the Everglades

Of course, at that time, live didn’t mean instant. With no social media and a system that didn’t exactly cough up instant gratification, it took more than five hours to post that breaking story. Maybe you saw it on your Mac Performa or Compaq.

But the point is, the news was out before the next day’s newspaper.

HeraldLink was born.

READ MORE: See the site here

The name of the site eventually became and then, but the goal has always remained the same: Post news when it happens.

Today, the Herald is all things digital: apps, video, social, blogs, multimedia. But back then, in 1996, the digital edition of the Herald was a whole new world.

Here is a look at our story from May 25, 1996, introducing HeraldLink to readers:



May 25,1996

The Herald officially joins the World Wide Web Sunday when it launches HeraldLink, its online newspaper and Internet access service.

HeraldLink actually made an early debut to cover the May 11 crash of the ValuJet airliner in the Everglades, going online within hours of the tragedy.

"We made the decision to launch prematurely because we had the news, " said Rich Gordon, Herald online services manager.

Since then, HeraldLink has been providing continuous coverage of the crash, as well as adding other sections to the online paper in preparation for its official launch.

HeraldLink includes the newspaper's award-winning coverage of news, sports and business in Florida, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as all daily columns and editorials.

More is coming: Classified advertising will be added this summer, and El Nuevo Herald, The Herald's Spanish-language sister paper, will go online later in the year.

Breaking news will be available as it happens. The first news of the May 11 plane crash, for example, appeared on HeraldLink at about 8 p.m. -- within 5 1/2 hours of the time the plane nosedived into the Everglades.

"This is an exciting project for us, " Gordon said. "It exposes a much larger audience to the kind of journalism we do."

Subscribers to HeraldLink will get the full online content of The Herald and unlimited Internet access for $24.95 monthly -- about the same price for 10 hours online with Prodigy or America Online.

A 10-hour HeraldLink package is available for $9.95 monthly, plus $2 for each additional hour.

Subscribers will receive free Internet software, the Netscape Navigator 2.0 World Wide Web browser, and a personal e- mail address.

Although the HeraldLink service will cost more than some small local Net access providers, Gordon said it offers the advantage of toll-free technical support service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We're trying to make this affordable to a consumer market, " he said. "We won't be the cheapest Internet provider in the market, but our intent is to have a better quality of technical support and more reliable service than many of the smaller providers."

The HeraldLink online newspaper is also available to non- subscribers who get Internet access through other providers, but in the future they will have to pay to see the complete paper. Such content-only subscriptions will probably cost about $6.95 monthly.

For a limited time, HeraldLink will offer free access to The Herald's archives. Articles published between 1994 and April 1996 are currently available, and the library service will gradually be expanded to include years back to 1983.

Anyone will be able to search The Herald library for free, but later this year it will cost $1.50 to download the full text of a story between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays, and 25 cents to download after 7 p.m. and on weekends.