15 News

Karna Younger and Callie Branstiter

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Articulate how business models in the media limit readers’ access to the news.
  • Identify news sources for your daily news consumption and research needs.
  • Use strategies for finding new and archived news on an assigned issue topic.
  • Evaluate news sources for their credibility.

Playing Catch-Up on News

The City of Lawrence is planning to build a new headquarters for its police department. While city leaders believe that a new building is long overdue and is necessary for the police department to continue effectively serving the ever-growing city, the plan is controversial. Some Lawrence citizens don’t believe that a brand-new police headquarters is necessary, and think that the city can save taxpayer money by refurbishing existing police facilities. Others are opposed to the location of the new headquarters because it’s not central: it is on the edge of a quiet residential neighborhood and across the street from a high school.

Let’s pretend that you arrive in Lawrence for your first post-college job, and this is a controversy that’s handed to you. If you are a news reporter, your editor wants you to write an article on what the city’s current plans are for the headquarters, and what public opinion is like on this issue. If you are a strat comm professional, your manager assigns you to work with a client that has a vested interest in the headquarters being built: the police officers’ union. The union is paying your firm to come up with messaging that will convince more Lawrencians to support the new headquarters.

It is not unusual for a young communications professional to be handed an issue they know nothing about and to be told to learn all about it in a finite amount of time. Before you are put in such a situation, you need to develop the skills and strategies for learning about an issue effectively and efficiently. Knowing how to find and read credible news is a crucial first step in this process.

Being an informed news consumer requires time and commitment. Back in the day, journalists would read two to three print newspapers front to back every day, between listening to radio and watching television broadcasts. With digital media, we have so many options, and our news binges can go from healthy to excessive really quickly.

In this chapter, we briefly discuss the state of the news business, as we consider access to news, and the paywalls that an increasing number of news publications are putting up. We then walk through evaluating the credibility of a news article, focusing on the accuracy of its content. The chapter ends with suggestions for accessing news sources, both directly and through library subscriptions and databases.

Access to News

Access to the news is one of the most important topics in journalism today. Much of this discussion is centered on the business of news as the media shift to digital platforms and seek new ways to generate revenue. For over 100 years, news agencies have relied on advertising money to pay their operating costs and to reap a profit.

Today, 85 cents of every advertising dollar goes to Facebook or Google, according to The Aspen Institute’s annual report on journalism. Moreover, individuals and companies don’t buy as many print ads in newspapers as they used to, resulting in steep drops in print advertising revenue. In 2017, newspaper companies in the United States made from advertising about a third of what they made in 2007, according to the Pew Center’s State of the News Media report.

To compensate for the shortage of advertising revenue, many for-profit digital news agencies are shifting from the advertising model to a reader subscription model, which restricts readers’ access to news. By putting up semi-porous paywalls, some news companies have succeeded in generating revenue on their digital products.

For instance, The New York Times allows non-subscribing readers to read five articles a month before blocking their access and asking them to subscribe. In 2017, The New York Times made more than $1 billion in subscription revenue, with digital subscriptions increasing by over $100 million. The Times is not alone — after the 2016 presidential election, many major publications saw a major increase in reader subscriptions and, in the case of not-for-profit outlets such as The Guardian, donations. Readers sign up because they want access to quality local news, or because they want to support good journalism, the American Press Institute found. The reader subscription model can generate a lot of money.

Whether you are Googling or using some of the libraries’ resources, you are likely to hit a paywall eventually. However, freely accessible news does still exist. For example, not-for-profit media agencies, such as ProPublica and The Guardian, ask for donations in lieu of subscriptions and do not block content.

Paywalled news media also promise to drop their paywalls in emergency situations, so that the public can have unfettered access to the news. But what constitutes an emergency? You may argue that the Sudanese refugee crisis constitutes an emergency, but these agencies are unlikely to drop their paywalls for a story like that.

Do Paywalls Signify Credibility?

While many credible news sources are moving behind paywalls, the porosity of paywalls varies. This means that some companies are allowing more free article reads than others.

Editors, publishers, and owners of subscription publications have promised that paywalls will enable their staff to produce quality journalism. Vanity Fair’s editor, Radhika Jones, explained that subscriptions would support “more breaking news, more in-depth reporting, more voices in commentary and opinion, more access to our incredible archives, and more of the intelligent, prescient, agenda-setting journalism” on which Vanity Fair prides itself. Some in the business of journalism see paywalls as the only way to ensure that credible news continues.

Following this logic, you may be tempted to view a paywall as a marker of credible journalism. For instance, you know that The New York Times will ask you to pay for the sixth article you read, but that clickbait websites will not do that. For instance, Buzzfeed’s quizzes lure you in, and there are always those advertised headlines lampooning the latest celebrity couple or the president. All of this stuff is free and less-than-credible, right?

But critics (and even some supporters) of the paywall or digital subscription model beg to differ. They critique digital subscriptions as capitalistic ventures that do not benefit the newsroom, but instead fund company owners’ profit margins and their side pet projects or failures.

The Denver Post paywall

The ways in which digital subscription models do not improve the quality and credibility of news can be seen in The Denver Post’s battle against its owner. The Post is owned by Digital First Media (DFM), a company that is controlled by a hedge fund called Alden Global Capital, which is owned, in turn, by Wall Street tycoon Randall D. Smith.

The Nation’s Julie Reynolds uncovered that Smith buys local newspapers at rock bottom prices, lays off staff at twice the rate of other news companies, jacks up subscription and advertising rates, and then sells off the printing presses and facilities once the publication is defunct. DFM widens its profit margins by centralizing content and operations and recycling content across multiple platforms, according to a news business analysis by Nieman Lab’s Ken Doctor. In other words, a DFM-owned local newspaper’s website may not publish any news about the local government or local happenings. Instead, it will present a series of clickbait articles written by freelance writers, not local journalists, that were run in several newspapers across the country about strange-yet-captivating subjects like raccoon cats.

In 2017 Smith made almost $160 million, which he used to buy lots of Palm Beach mansions.

Suffering under this model and a lack of staff to cover the newspaper’s reporting territory, Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett argued that DFM has a “cynical strategy of constantly reducing the amount and quality of its offerings, while steadily increasing its subscription rates.”

The case of The Denver Post illustrates that a paywall is not an automatic indicator of credibility. Some publications that use a paywall, like The Denver Post and its siblings, do not benefit from the revenues these paywalls generate. Other paywalled companies, however, are doing great journalism. The Washington Post, for example, operates under the digital subscription model. Its journalists continues to thrive, winning two Pulitzer Prizes in 2018, including one for its coverage of U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, discussed earlier in this textbook.

How to Assess the Credibility of News

News articles, in general, are secondary sources. This is because in the process of writing the news, reporters collect information from a variety of sources, like other news articles, news conferences, news releases, spokespeople, eyewitnesses, records, reports, and studies. In their articles, reporters present the information from these sources in new and reconfigured ways. The primary sources of information presented in the news reside outside of news articles, but hopefully are attributed inside these articles.

Because the news media is secondary sources of information, when assessing the credibility of any news, it is important to skeptically interrogate it. This process entails retracing the reporter’s steps, checking their research and sources, and determining if it is reasonable to reach the same conclusions as they did.

To understand better the credibility of news, let’s return to The Denver Post’s stance against Alden/DFM, its owner, and focus on how student journalists at Duke University helped to localize this national story. As we know, the national topic was that DFM was threatening the future of local newspapers by slashing newsroom staffs in favor of widening profit margins. Even though neither Duke University nor its home, Durham, North Carolina, were not part of DFM’s newspaper chain, Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, answered The Denver Post’s call to take a position against DFM with a news article and an editorial. Examining this news article helps us illustrate how to assess the credibility of news.

Duke’s involvement with the story started when the NewsGuild, the same union that published Post employees’ letter of dissent, called out Duke University for benefiting from Alden/DFM. In two letters to Duke’s president, and in a news story on its website, the national union criticized Duke for accepting donations from Heath Freeman, a Duke alumnus and president of Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund that owns DFM.

The NewsGuild’s president decried Duke’s relationship with a “vulture capitalist” in the union’s article: “Receipt of his donations contradicts the mission of Duke and of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy, and it is an insult to journalists everywhere.” He argued that Duke had no business researching journalism or training future journalists, or being home to the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy, as long as the university accepted profits from Alden’s destruction of local journalism. In response to the union’s private communications to the university president, Duke denied having any relationship with Alden.

Duke might have gotten away with their denial if it hadn’t been for some meddling student journalists, particularly Sam Turken, who wrote a news article for The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper. In his piece, Turken refuted Duke’s denial that the university was not benefitting from a relationship with Freeman.

To assess the credibility of Turken’s article, we retrace his reporting steps, focusing on a single credibility cue: the accuracy of the article’s content. We can use the lateral search process we discussed in chapter 7.

Duke’s Turken would have started his research with the main topic that is being investigated, the controversy between The Post and Alden/DFM. If we hadn’t done so already, we would Google information about The Denver Post and Alden/DFM to learn more about the controversy. Since we are informed on this subject already, we move onto locating the beginning of the beef between Duke’s Heath Freeman and The NewsGuild. We might question, for example, if The NewsGuild’s criticism of Duke is true, or whether Duke is right to deny that it benefits from Alden/DFM’s “vulture capitalism.” So we quickly Google “Heath Freeman Duke NewsGuild,” and find The NewsGuild’s web story among our top results of news outlets also reporting on the topic. This story gives us (1) the primary source for much of the backstory Turken includes in his story, and (2) the letters exchanged between Duke and The NewsGuild, which are linked in Turken’s story. So already, we have substantiated Turken’s timeline for The NewsGuild communicating with Duke, and verified the union’s version of events. Additionally, we might go back and read what other news outlets are saying. If their information aligns with what Turken provided, then this is another point in his favor.

Next up, we could investigate Heath Freeman, his employment, and his connection to Duke. We could try contacting Freeman directly, and could try to find his contact information via Google. Our first instinct might be to start with his company’s website. Unfortunately, as of publication, Alden’s website did not appear to be fully functioning, even though a quick search on Whois shows that the domain is owned by Alden. (Sidenote: This makes Alden look even more shady. What kind of big business doesn’t have a working website?!)

Anyhoo, we return to Google to search Freeman’s name and Duke. This yields a #NewsMatters biography of Freeman, but the organization’s “About” page discloses that it represents protesting DFM employees. This doesn’t seem like an unbiased source, so we should seek other information. Moving on, we find a Bloomberg profile of Freeman and his LinkedIn profile. But no contact information, so contacting Freeman directly would be tricky. However, we know Bloomberg is an established business news company, and we see that the LinkedIn profile confirms the Bloomberg listing. To be certain, we could jump over to Nexis Uni, a subscription database available through the libraries, to research Freeman. Here, we find many articles from business wires and other news sources that detail Freeman’s latest business deals and the DFM-Post controversy as president of Alden. We’re pretty sure he is who he says he is.

But what about Freeman’s affiliation with Duke? His LinkedIn profile confirmed that he attended Duke, but it would be better if we could get confirmation from Duke. Turken provides such information as Freeman’s graduation year, what activities he participated in as a student, and details about his fundraising on behalf of the university. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) allows a university to confirm some information about a student’s attendance, such as the dates they were there and their official activities. So Turken would have been able to contact Duke directly about some of this information. However, he hyperlinks to the 2016-2017 annual report for Duke’s Freeman Center for Jewish Life. This makes it pretty clear that Turken probably Googled The NewsGuild’s assertion that Freeman resides as the chair of advisory board for the Freeman Center, named for his family. The report confirms the fundraising sums Turken mentioned in his report, as well as details about the Freeman family, which Freeman details in an opening letter. Through our own Google searches, we find similar family and educational background in an alumni magazine posting, and confirm Freeman’s interest and involvement in Duke football in the same posting, by Turken’s link to a Duke athletic’s article, and an interview of student-athletes Freeman worked with. Looks as though Freeman’s association with Duke checks out.

We could continue checking the credibility of Turken’s article. For instance, we could confirm that the journalist he interviewed, Lisa Krieger, does work for San Jose Mercury News and graduated from Duke by looking up her profile at the newspaper, calling Duke to confirm her graduation date, or, using the contact information on her work profile, contacting her directly to verify her quote.

We could even check where Duke’s newspaper got The NewsGuild image posted above the article. To do this, we right-click on the image, copy the URL or the image itself. Then we hop over to Google Image search or TinEye, and right-click again to paste the picture or URL into the search box. Our search results confirm that the image is originally from The NewsGuild website, and that the newspaper didn’t doctor the image.

At the end of it, we can feel assured, through our prior research and skeptical verification process, that Turken researched and published a credible news story that successfully localized a national issue for his Duke audience.

As we think about the accuracy of news, it’s important to keep in mind that journalists sometimes do make mistakes. Sometimes a journalist receives misinformation from a seemingly reliable source or they may just get something wrong. However, a credible journalist and news source will acknowledge when an error has been made and issue a correction. Being able to judge whether or not information is accurate comes from reading and balancing the information, argument, and perspectives presented in multiple sources. Experienced journalists follow such a verification process when reporting, and we must do the same when evaluating their reporting.

To recap, we used the following sources when evaluating the accuracy of the content presented in the Duke article, and recommend that you use similar techniques and sources in the credibility checks you perform:

  • Google. This is basic but, as you know, can allow you to check out a person’s web presence: Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram as well as any directory listings on a company website, which would confirm employment. Do this for the reporter and any reference sources to get a snapshot of their past experiences and work.
  • Use WHOIS to look up company names and web or IP addresses, which is particularly useful if you stumble across a website that you are not familiar with. This tool allows you to see who or what owns a website and when they created the website.
  • Subscription databases, particularly Nexis Uni, available through KU Libraries.
  • TinEye and Google’s image search allows you to search by images. You simply drag and drop an image into the search box or upload it. Use this to determine if any graphics included in the story are original to the source and to verify any social media accounts. Lots of fake social media accounts sport stock photos.

If you want to learn more about verifying the authenticity of online photos, watch the following video by Professor Gerri Berendzen about how to evaluate a weather-related photo.

And that’s how we would assess the content accuracy cue, as part of evaluating the accuracy of Turken’s article. Any news article also can be evaluated on several other cues, like publisher, author, timeliness, sources, and bias. Ideally, we would interrogate Turken’s work on these cues. As always, the balance of the evidence from these cues should determine whether the article is credible enough to use in our own research or reporting.

Peer Tutorial: Video News Releases

In this video, Carly Johnson and Lauren Ross (JOUR 302, spring 2019) discuss video news releases, and demonstrate how to evaluate one using the cues-and-evidence method.

Using News to Understand the Context of News

The process of coming to understand an issue from news articles that have reported on the issue entails reconstructing for ourselves this issue’s multi-level context. Most issues have several levels of context, including global, national, and local or hyperlocal.

The Duke Chronicle’s article on the Alden/DFM-The Denver Post standoff localized a national story. In the article, Turken, the journalist, conveyed to his readers why they should care about a battle in Colorado. He showed them how and why this national news was impacting their community, Duke University.

As you research an issue, think similarly about the global, national, local, or hyperlocal lenses through which you can view this issue. Doing so will help you more fully understand the issue.

  • Global sources can help you understand the big picture of an issue. For instance, many of Alden/DFM’s critics accused Alden of being a threat to local journalism or free speech in the United States. To get a global perspective on this, you could benchmark this case against historical instances of the freedom of the press being mitigated by capitalistic or governmental forces. The non-profit Committee to Protect Journalists is constantly reporting on such threats against journalism and journalists.
  • National news is valuable for a variety of reasons. It can tell you how global issues are playing out in the United States or the larger implications of something happening in your neighborhood, city, or state. It can also help you determine if and how your local issue has played out in other states. For instance, The Denver Post story became national news because other DFM-newspapers across the nation faced similar problems, and the wider journalism community responded. Additionally, freedom of the press is a constitutional right, enshrined in the First Amendment, which makes it difficult to discuss the troubles in Denver without the context of this right.
  • Local/hyperlocal news is vital but endangered. Local news helps citizens stay informed about the issues that are most likely to have an immediate impact on their lives. It drives home for readers, viewers, and clients why national and global issues are important or why they should care. It often answers the “So what?” question. For example, Turken told the Duke community why they should care about The Denver Post: One of their own was involved and engaging in shady behavior that stood in conflict with the values of Duke’s (journalism) community.

Accessing News

Being an information professional entails constantly consuming the news. Good journalists and strat comm professionals know what’s going on. They read, listen to, and read as much news as possible, to stay informed of current events, and track how news stories develop. This means cultivating a habit of browsing and consuming news every day. Below we discuss tactics and resources for helping you do this without becoming overwhelmed.

Newsletters

To save time while chasing down news, you can have the news emailed to you. Nearly every news source issues a newsletter or digest of the most important recent news. Below are links to a few newsletters. Editors of these digests summarize the news so that you become informed in about five minutes. The newsletters on this list are all free, but may link to items behind paywalls.

Social media

Journalists often are required to tweet throughout their workdays. By following key journalists, you often can trace a developing news story for free and find heaps of experts on a given topic. Photojournalists also take advantage of Instagram to showcase their work. Figuring out which social media accounts are actually helpful, though, can be difficult. Here are some tips for getting started.

  1. Begin by following a major news agency that is reporting on your topic. Pretty much all news outlets have their social media bases covered and will repost their reporters’ content. Following a reporter’s employer will help you find out who is assigned to a particular area or beat.
  2. Find one good source.
    • If you’ve found one good source, you’ve probably found a lot of good sources. First, read the reporter’s bio and check out their other publications. If they frequently write on a topic or similar ones, then they have probably been assigned to cover this particular area and are the beat “experts” at their publications.
    • Check out the sources. To build their credibility, reporters interview and cite various experts. These experts likely have their own work and publications that they want to publicize, so you can track them down on social media to directly access their expertise.
    • Pay attention to who broke the original story. In journalism, reporters strive to get it first and get it right. Doing both means that a reporter is on top of his or her game, that is, is an expert on a given topic. Out of respect for those who get it first, reporters will cite who was the first to break a story or a major lead. If you see this, locate that original news and reporter. Read their reporting and follow their social media posts.
  3. Follow the leader. It is also good to note that many journalists also find stories through social media, so you should also pay attention to whom reporters are following on social media. This can lead you to find other reporters and their sources for your work.

Bear in mind, though, to follow the official verified accounts of news sources. Even if your best friend tweets a link to an article published by a reputable source, you should track that source down to verify its authenticity.

If the above sounds familiar, it is probably because you would follow similar steps when using Google News and Google Scholar and the Libraries’ subscription databases to locate information. Keep the above tips in mind throughout your research process.

Aggregators, Like Google News

A news aggregator is a website that presents news from a range of sources, organizing the news around the key news topics. Google News is one of the most popular news aggregators around. Though it does not produce original content, Google culls the internet in search of the latest news headlines. Using Google News has its advantages. First, it serves as a one-stop shop for reading across many news organizations. Second, you can customize your news page to follow trends and topics that are important to you.

Customize Google News

To customize your Google News sections, click a topic in the menu on the left or search for a specific topic in the search bar at the top. When you’ve selected that topic, you can click on the Follow button in the upper right of that page. Google provides detailed instructions on how to get the news customized.

Set Google Alerts

To receive emails about specific topics in the news, you can sign into your Google account, and navigate to its alerts page. Here, you may type in any topic, and determine how frequently you want Google to deliver news on this topic to your email inbox. For complete instructions and tips for managing your Google Alerts, you can read this article by TechRepublic.

Downsides of Google News

Google News is convenient but it also has all of the downfalls and traps of its parent product that we discussed in our earlier chapter on Google. Like the search engine side of Google, Google News uses web crawlers to find content, as this article from Search Engine Land, a news site about search and marketing, explains. The reliance of Google News on an algorithm also means that there is a whole lot of news that Google does not uncover.

Moreover, what Google News displays is personalized to meet what Google thinks you need, based on your past reading history and location. This may be great when you are tracking a particular topic, but it also puts you in a filter bubble and an echo chamber of your own interests. An overreliance on the curated flow of news in Google News (and in all social media platforms) may prevent you from discovering interests that may turn out to be vital to your research, work, and life.

Finally, the popularity of a news story contributes to the algorithm that determines what news Google News presents. As a result, Google news has been guilty of circulating false information. The Atlantic reported that when there is an absence of credible news — say when news of a mass shooting has just broken and news outlets haven’t had a chance to cover it — Google News will retrieve half-baked conspiracy theories and misinformation that circulate in the dark corners of the internet.

To avoid being deceived by such algorithmic traps, we suggest that you develop a healthy and varied news diet. This can include visiting specific news agencies directly, such as websites for local, regional, and national newspapers, and watching broadcast news.

Peer Tutorial: Google News

In this video, Madeline Hall (JOUR 302, fall 2018) demonstrates how to use and customize Google News.

Searching for News

When searching for news using either Google or the Libraries’ subscription databases, remember some of our earlier tips from the search/re-search and search toolbox chapters. In particular, pay attention to your search terms.

If you are not finding the information you need, it may be because your search terms are either too broad or too narrow. When researching Lawrence’s new police headquarters for example, you may first search for “new police station.” This may capture some recent articles, but not every article is going to use this phrase. Change it up and try “law enforcement facility” OR “law enforcement facilities.” Or look for the specific referendum or ballot initiative that proposed funding for the facility, such as “Proposition No. 1” AND “law enforcement.”

Limiters in Google News and research databases work much like the options on Amazon or other shopping sites. Limiters allow you to select specific dates, locations, and languages, full-text articles, and other facets of the results. These limiters are typically listed under an “advanced search” link, or along the top or left side of the results page. We often start a search without any limitations and gradually add them until we start getting more precise or relevant results. Keep in mind, however, that adding more limiters will decrease the number or search results we have in general. The key limiters to play with include:

  • Dates. The past repeats itself, and you want to make certain that you find information about the specific incident you are researching.
  • Location. Lawrence, Kansas, isn’t the only place that has debated funding a law enforcement complex. For this reason, take advantage of any geographic limiters available, or add the city and state name to your search. Alternatively, if you want to find out what is happening in other places, do not limit your search geographically.
  • Languages. Google News and news databases will contain information in several languages. Take advantage of language limiters to ensure that you access languages that you can read, and the viewpoints you are interested in learning about. For instance, if you want to know what the Latinx population is thinking about immigration, limit your search to Spanish.

Peer Tutorial: Searching for News Using Advanced Google Operators

In the following video, Jaron Lucas (JOUR 302, fall 2019) demonstrates how to use related and allin Google search operators to search for news.

Library resources

There really isn’t any sure way of getting around a paywall unless you work for Mr. Robot. You can, however, take advantage of the subscriptions you have through university and local libraries. These subscriptions aren’t really free because they are funded by your tax and tuition dollars, but at least you won’t have to fork over any additional money to access a news publication. Below is a short list of resources available through the KU Libraries’ website (check your school’s library for similar resource lists). These resources have been vetted as credible resources by information experts (i.e., librarians).

Specific publications

KU and Lawrence Libraries have access to many news publications. The following is a very small sample of what’s available. To locate specific publication titles through KU Libraries, start at the Libraries’ website, and click on “e-Journals,” under “Find,” in the middle left of your screen. From here, you can search for paywalled local and national publications such as:

  • Kansas City Star
  • Wall Street Journal
  • New York Times
    • KU has full access to The Times through the database ProQuest Newsstand, but it is not presented there in the browser-friendly format as on the Times website or mobile app. If you prefer to look at the Times the way it’s published online, the Lawrence Public Library is your gateway to unlimited New York Times access. Because you reside in Lawrence as a student, you can get a library card at the LPL to gain access to the most recent online edition.
  • Christian Science Monitor

Databases

The libraries’ databases contain more than just news publications. Some also contain trade publications, such as AdAge, scholarly articles, and business reports. You typically can filter out the noise with the options listed on the left side of the results page.

To locate a specific database, you may type its name directly into the main search box, or locate it under the “Articles and Databases” link in the “Find” section on the homepage.

  • Access World News
    • This has a bunch of news from across the globe, and it also has news sources from the United States and from Kansas specifically. Equally helpful, there is content from military media and broadcast transcripts from television and radio.
  • Associated Press collections online
  • Nexis Uni
    • This has a natural language search function and plenty of filters to make it easier and faster to find the news you need. Filter by time period, geographic location, subject, and even whether the news is negative or not.

Historical sources

  • Chicago Defender
    • The nation’s influential African-American newspaper. Based in Chicago, two-thirds of its large readership was outside of the Second City. If you are researching an issue related to African-American history and life, check this source. We promise it will give you a needed perspective.
  • Chicago Tribune
  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers
    • If you are looking for back issues, this archive of many newspapers houses material from the 19th Century to the early 21st Century.

Conclusion

When reading and using media sources for your research, remember to go through the processes we outlined in the chapters on evaluation and bias. It is particularly important to be mindful of the geographic, demographic, and temporal scope of media outlets. Journalists used to read two to three newspapers a day so that they would be informed by multiple perspectives. You should seek divergent perspectives in your daily life and research as well.

Activity 1: Newsletter Review

Identify and subscribe to one of the newsletters listed above. After receiving and reading at least one issue of the newsletter, write a review of this resource.

  • Did it contain relevant content?
  • How long did it take you to read?
  • What did you think of the editor’s tone?
  • Would you recommend it to a friend?

These are just a few things you could discuss in your 200-400 word review.

Activity 2: Open Pedagogy

Create a tutorial for one of the news resources discussed in this chapter. Explore the resource’s search functions, information, ease of use, limitations, and other positive and negative features.

  • Using your findings, create a tutorial that demonstrates how to use the tool.
  • The audience for the tutorial is one of your fellow classmates.
  • Use whatever technological tool you wish to create the tutorial, which should run approximately 2-3 minutes.

Activity 3: New Resource Open Pedagogy

Identify and create a tutorial for a news source that is not discussed in this chapter. Explore the resource’s search functions, information, ease of use, limitations, and other positive and negative features.

  • Using your findings, create a tutorial that demonstrates how to use the tool.
  • Your audience for the tutorial is one of your fellow classmates.
  • You may use whatever technological tool you wish to create your tutorial, which should run approximately 2-3 minutes.

Activity 4: News Research

Use one of the resources discussed in this chapter to research your topic.

  • Write a one-page synopsis of your search process.
  • In the first paragraph, summarize the steps you took to find the information, including the search terms you used, what they yielded, and how your searching developed.
  • In the second paragraph, summarize the credibility of the information sources you found. Explain how the credibility of the sources you found led you to use some of these sources, but not others.
  • Summarize the information about your topic that you found, attributing all of the sources you referenced.

License

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Be Credible by Karna Younger and Callie Branstiter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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