Communication: COMM 1610 News Writing

Intro to News Writing

Biden and Putin

Balibouse, D. (2021, June 16). U.S. President Joe Biden, left,
and Russia's President Vladimir Putin, right, pose for the
media at Villa La Grange for the U.S.-Russia summit in
Geneva, Switzerland. AP News. 
Retrieved from

There's a lot to cover in journalism ranging from the 'low hanging fruit' of ethics to the business side of things (print vs. digital, for example), to abstract analysis of existential paradigms in this era of massive change and transition.  Librarians like me are eager to help you get through this with your ideas -but also with the greater goal of seeing you graduate. If you're coming to this cold and would like more help, just contact me for an appointment -I'll even entertain a group of you- at

News + Current Events - (not all academic/scholarly, but full of good rhetoric on all sides of an issue)
   US Newsstream (most U.S. local papers are in here, full text!)
   Nexis UNI (aka LexisNexis -the darling of comm/journalism folks forever)
   Access World News

   CQ Researcher (Big Picture context written by and for journalists)

Media Analyses (and Good Places to Start)
   Communication & Mass Media Complete (CMMC)
   Film and Television Literature Index
   Academic Search Ultimate

Historic & Complete Runs of Major Newspapers
   New York Time Historical Newspaper (1851-2012)
   Los Angeles Times Archive (1881-1992)
   San Francisco Chronicle Archive (1869-current)

Cultural and Societal (and business)
   Sociological Abstracts
   Business Source Premiere

Library Catalog everything! (lots of e-books too)

MEGA Scholarly -All Academic (almost) All the Time

Directories -finding contact info

As a journalist, how can we get a hold of people?  Some public versions of websites can be tricky to glean information, but the library can help.  In some cases, contact information is provided in library directories that are part of research databases

Marriott Library Directories Databases Index

   Mergent Intellect  Business Information (national, local, public, private)
   Guidestar Premium   Non-profit Organizations Directory

   Foundation Directory   Grant funding organizations

Something to remember: in the section above -scholarly articles typically have the names and contact information of all the primary researchers so they can be contacted as part of the scholarly conversation -if you find a scholarly article that you like: contact the author with a few questions: it's fun and you can build social capital within your field of interest!


How can you determine the value of any information?  Whether it is verbal, non-verbal, written, yelled, televised, etc., the following information literacy screen can be used to determine value.  Hint: an article is considered scholarly (or "high impact") if it shows strong evidence of passing all five of the following...


P is for Purpose

Why was the information given/published/produced/etc.?  To inform? To persuade? To sell? To entertain? To get you off their back? –there’s no absolute correct answer, but it is very helpful to consider.

A is for Author(ity)

Who is the author(s) and how are they an authority?  Example: Stephen Hawking has a PhD in Physics and holds the Chair of the Physics Department at Cambridge University –if he states something related to Physics, he is highly authoritative.  If he argues with you that the most important element of cheesecake is the crust –he is on equal authoritative footing with the rest of us cheesecake fans.  Note: years of specific experience also counts, but is less easy to quantify than a degree or title.  Being old or being a celebrity do not count in and of themselves.  An item with ‘anonymous’, a ‘wise man once said’, no listed author, or a record of a changed authorship, are all poor.

D is for Date

How fresh is your information, and does that matter?  If you’re looking at anthropology, a field report from a dig along the river Euphrates in 1915 may be just as valuable as today.  If you are looking for smart phone reviews, you’ll want something more recent.  If there is no date of publication –then beware.

R is for Relevance

What level of information do you need?  You won’t need a scholarly article to pick a restaurant to go to, but a foreign policy specialist would be ill-advised to base policy decisions on the ideas of the guy at the grocery store putting in his 2 cents (but he probably is a great reference for the nearest & best coffee shop!)

E is for Editor

All information has added value when a larger group agrees with you and says so by publishing you (essentially you have successfully passed the editors’ desks).  Example; if someone says that all chicken should be eaten raw (which we all know is a bad idea, you would get horribly sick, and it would be disgusting, right?):
            in a self-published blog = it is either a prank/satire, or they are crazy
            in a local news source that will publish anything = it may still be a prank, or something that slipped by the overworked editor by mistake
            in the New York Times = it might be part of a hard to understand movement; you won’t catch me eating it, but at least I can read about why someone is.
            in the Journal of the American Medical Association = either all doctors are crazy
or there’s some bizarre, but effective treatment of a disease.

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