Issues with News Content

Caveat: "a modifying or cautionary detail to be considered when evaluating, interpreting, or doing something." -- Merriam Webster []

Beware of Unreliable News Sources

Fake news is not news you disagree with -- it is content generated by non-news organizations to drive eyeballs to ads (e.g., clickbait) or to spread false information (rumors, conspiracy theories, junk science, and propaganda, for example). To distinguish between fake news and legitimate news sources, see our detailed guide on evaluating news content. Verify the reliability of the news stories you receive on social media!

Losing the News

Finding news coverage can be complex and confusing. A variety of sources exists, and you will use different sources depending on the date of an event and the geographic location of the event, the perspective desired, the format of the content, and availability and format of indexing or searching capability. Public indexing of many newspapers is a relatively recent phenomenon although some retrospective indexing of major newspapers is underway. This guide is a brief overview of some major newspaper indexes and full-text newspapers resources. Consult reference staff for further guidance.

Caveat emptor--Lost Content: Be aware that access to newspaper articles can be compromised. Here are three ways:

The Tasini decision. In September 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Tasini et al. v. The New York Times et al. that freelance writers must be paid additional compensation if their work was included in an online database (i.e., Nexis Uni, Factiva, Access World News). As a result, online database providers removed many freelance-authored newspaper articles from their databases. In another example, some freelance photographs in the online version of The New York Times (in ProQuest Historical Newspapers collection which was digitized from microfilm) have been removed by ProQuest due to copyright restrictions and lack of permission to use these photos in an online version. These articles are available in full in the physical microfilm versions of those editions owned by the library. To locate the microfilmed newspapers in the library, search the Cornell Library Catalog online and limit your search results by Microform under Format in the lefthand column.

Different editions: Newspapers often publish different editions for different cities or regions of the country. Articles that appear in one regional edition do not appear in all. Some newspapers also publish separate geographical supplements with unique content. In addition, newspapers publish chronological editions; articles in the early editions may not appear in later editions and vice versa. Often only one edition is digitized or microfilmed.
Articles in some online news sources are serially updated and the earlier updates disappear; in effect, there are no editions. Articles in online editions may have different headlines/titles and different dates of publication from the equivalent print version.

Data loss: Some of the news that has been archived digitally or on film is irretrievably lost through data corruption, orphaned data files, or physical and environmental damage to the archived medium (i.e., microfilm). Newsprint disintegrates. News content may become unavailable due to software or hardware obsolescence--the infrastructure to access the data may no longer be available.

Formats available

Newspapers and the news are currently available in eight formats: online plain text, online HTML, online PDFs, online direct, broadcast, streaming video/audio, microform, CD-ROM, and paper. The News Formats web page lists some of the uses and limitations of each format.

Reference Help

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Michael Engle
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