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TC Library Online

A guide to library resources


A newspaper is a regularly published collection of articles that intends to inform the audience of current events of interest to a broad readership. Most newspapers are published daily, although some may be published weekly.  Some newspapers are considered local papers intended to be read by people in a certain location, and some are more regional, national or international in audience.  Examples include: The Florida Times Union, The Miami Herald, The New York Times, The Times (London), and many more.  

News articles are typically written in the so-called inverted pyramid style, most important information at the beginning of the article and increasingly less important details toward the end of the article. If structured this way, an article can be edited from the bottom up to make room for additional news items that might have since broken. The aim of most news articles is to answer six questions about the happenings about which they report:

newspaper images

who what when where why how image

When to use a newspaper

While newspaper articles are not typically the first choices for inclusion in academic research papers for their analytical content, they do provide first‐hand accounts of events that have historical significance and are excellent examples of primary sources.

Of course, articles from newspapers might also serve other purposes in academic research. One prime example would be as support for a paper analyzing editorial styles of various national newspapers or news syndicates. A researcher might also be able to assess the leaning of the newspaper by reading the editorial page. Is the paper conservative? Is the paper liberal? Or is the paper more middle‐of‐the‐road? Having a sense of the inclination of the paper's editorial staff might be useful in assessing how a particular situation is analyzed in an editorial. A researcher relying on editorial commentary on a particular situation would want to be aware of any inherent bias in the commentary as a means for gauging the accuracy of the allegations made in the editorial.

Where to find newspaper articles

Most Libraries now provide access to articles from newspapers via online databases. A couple of the most commonly available systems that can provide worldwide access to newspapers are ProQuest's US Newsstream and EBSCOhost's Newspaper Source Plus. A number of databases that provide access to magazine and journal articles also include newspapers in their coverage. For example, Academic OneFile, in addition to having articles from a wide variety of magazines and journals, also provides access to the full text of numerous newspapers. Most of these online systems are limited in the dates covered, frequently providing access from the late 1990s forward.

Google is busily scanning newspapers and making them searchable and viewable over the open Internet. A researcher can go to to access news articles available through Google. While it features currently  available content online, once a researcher does a search of the news for a historical topic, Google will provide date ranges to which the search can be limited, in many cases helping the researcher locate copies of articles as early as the 19th century. For example, a quick search on U.S. President William McKinley results in articles as far back as 1869, the year that he was elected president.

How to evaluate news articles

To evaluate news articles, ask questions using the CRAAP method developed by Chico State librarians. CRAAP is an acronym for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose.

Currency: Is this a recent article? Does the date affect the content or context? Some articles shared on social media can be older articles that may relate to current events, but not have current or accurate information.  If the article is not recent, the claims may no longer be relevant or have been proven wrong.

Relevance: Is the article relevant? It is useful? Does it fill your information need? While some articles may appear to be addressing a current topic, you must read past the headline and determine the relevancy of the content for your purposes. Be aware of click bait.

Authority: Who is the author? Has the author written other articles on the same or similar topic? Have they demonstrated expertise and experience? What is the source? Does it have an agenda or bias? Well known does not always mean authoritative and decisions and understanding of authority can itself be biased and leave out important voices, so you need to do the research.

Accuracy: Can the content be verified by multiple sources? Is it factual? Are you aware of and do you understand the sources biases? Be skeptical of articles only appearing in one place that you are unable to confirm. What is the original source of the story?  This is particularly important with images that are shared widely across social media.

Purpose: Does this article provoke an emotional response? The intent of a valid news sources is to inform. While an emotional response to specific information is to be expected, inaccurate news articles are often written for the sole purpose of provoking anger, outrage, fear, happiness, excitement or confirmation of ones' own beliefs.

Adapted from : Meriam Library, California State University           

Fact checking sites

Use these sites to look up stories and information in order to help verify and understand the type of information being shared. They are well researched and resourced and can and should be trusted.

Consistency and Bias

It is important to understand bias in information and be aware of one's own confirmation bias. These sites provide information on the bias of sources as well as suggested ways to get information outside of one's own bubble. While bias is important to understand and must be taken into account when evaluating sources, even more important is a source's consistency in providing factual, verifiable, documented and well sourced information. These websites also evaluate sources on their record of providing this type of well researched and verified information.

Fact Checking - Specific to Politics and Elections

These websites fact check and provide information specific to politics, politicians and elections. They are especially important for finding facts and information for making informed decisions on voting.