A University of Maryland study examines the usefulness of what it calls "structural navigation bars" -- otherwise known as breadcrumb navigation. Researchers found test subjects "took about 60 seconds less time to navigate a site with the nav bars than without."
I haven't seen many cases of breadcrumb navigation on news sites, and I think that's a bad thing. The only two news sites I'm familiar with that use it are:
- CJOnline -- The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal
- themaneater.com -- The Maneater (student newspaper at the U. of Missouri)
(Disclaimer: I implemented breadcrumb navigation at themaneater.com.)
CJOnline organizes its breadcrumbs by topic (e.g.
Home > News > Kansas), while themaneater.com organizes them by date and topic (e.g.
Home > 2002 > July 17 > News > News story). In both cases, the breadcrumbs are extremely valuable tools, not only functioning as navigational shortcuts "up" and "down" the site tree, but also helping users orient themselves in the site. More news sites should be doing this.