Newspapers and magazines and their blogs/websites often have editors and fact checkers monitoring their content, which makes them more reliable. But this does not always make them the best sources for your topic.
We have put together some questions to consider when selecting newspapers and magazines. It is all these factors combined that help you decide that a source is useful not just one or two.
Who is writing?
Magazines and newspapers articles are typically written by journalist who do not typically have a specialty in the subject they are covering. Their job is to report on a variety of subject and remain objective in the process. It is still a good idea to find out more information about them.
What if an author is not listed or it says special to [name of paper] or AP (Associated Press) or Reuters?
What is the audience for the newspaper and magazine?
What is the purpose/mission of the source?
Find the "about us" page on their website, see if they have a mission statement page on their website, or read a Wikipedia article if there is one available to find out more about them.
When was it published?
Because these sources are produced relatively quickly, are shorter, and often contain only the most recent information on a topic, it is worthwhile to pursue newer magazine and newspaper articles.
That being said for history and communication studies, it is perfectly fine to use older newspaper and magazine articles as sources since they will serve as primary source evidence of an event or time period.
What kind of information does it provide?
There are several different types of articles found in magazines and newspapers and the information they provide varies. So when selecting an article from a newspaper or magazine, think about what kind of article it is and what type of information it provides.
These articles tend to be lengthier and offer more in depth coverage of a topic.
Editorials/Letters to the Editor
These are generally opinion pieces, sometimes representing the position of a publication, but more often representing the opinion of an individual. They can provide valuable insight into how people view a topic, but remember they may not provide unbiased information.
So think about the following:
Often short news stories of one paragraph or less. They may announce an important event, research, etc., but often don't provide much information beyond this. They could serve as evidence of something occurring, but don't have much else to them. These may not be the best sources of information as they are the most shallow of newspaper and magazines articles as they don't provide very much information.
Newspapers and magazines have blogs and they are often written by journalists, but not always. The type of information their blogs offer will vary, but there is usually some element of opinion in a blog post. You'll need to consider this alongside the type of information offered.
How does it relate to your topic?
Because magazine and newspaper articles tend to be shorter, you really need to look beyond the title of an article and examine how it can be used.
Check out the video below for more information on finding relevant sources.
Have an idea for a tutorial that we should make next? Let us know!