Access to news servers is something a new member to the Usenet community will get with their Usenet membership. Internet Service Providers usually have access to a news server but it isn’t very large and can not offer you the content that a news service provider can. Plus the servers that ISP’s have are usually slow and don’t carry the retention a news service would. There are some free, public servers that are available. But they also do not carry the same content that you would see with a news service provider. In addition, if you aren’t paying for the service then you will have no say or privileges to suggest what else should be carried on that free server; compared to a service you have to pay for.
There are two main ways to access a news server: One way is through a newsreader, which is the most common way. The other is through a web gateway interface, which some news service providers such as Fast Usenet provide to their members. The newsreader is a program that provides easier and more enjoyable way to view newsgroups. It will sometimes decode and combine multi-part binaries for you, which saves a lot of hassle and time. The web gateway is a little slower way to view newsgroups but it is a handy way when you are not able to use a newsreader or do not have one available to you. Another advantage is that you can use a regular web browser to search your favorite newsgroups.
News Pro is another very fast and powerful newsgroup reader (http://www.netwu.com/newspro/npr371tr.zip) that you can get if you are using the Windows as well. I suppose you are also wondering what Mac users have available to them. Thoth is a good multi-server newsreader: (http://www.thothsw.com/thoth/www.thothsw.com/thoth/). MT Newswatcher is also a good newsreader for the Mac that allows connections to multiple servers: (http://www.smfr.org/mtnw/#Download_MT_NewsWatcher).
For information on all of the different newsreaders out there check out: