Finding and Evaluating Online News Sources
The Internet has greatly expanded the access and options of news seekers. We can find news produced by non-traditional sources such as citizen journalists and news agencies representing minority perspectives. How do we ensure that the news we find is not just telling us what we want to hear? This guide presents a few tools to help the responsible news consumer to evaluate the news.
The Enoch Pratt Free Library subscribes to a wide variety of databases which contain the full-text of newspapers -- recent and past issues.
Web News Aggregation
Many sites aggregate news that has been produced elsewhere, often selecting it and commenting on it from the standpoint of a particular political perspective.
Web Only News
Politico 's reporting staff produces news primarily for publication on its popular website. The conservative Daily Caller uses a similar model.
While most news bloggers blog under the banner of established websites, veteran blogger, Andrew Sullivan is currently exploring a new subscription model of independent blogging.
Many local, national, and international print newspapers provide Web editions secondary to their print editions. The Web editions usually include more up-to-date content, as well as "Web exclusives."
News Agency Websites
News agencies employ teams of reporters to produce news which is reprinted or rebroadcast by news outlet subscribers.
News Media Websites
Besides newspaper websites, there are radio and television news websites.
Grassroots Journalism Sites
Web technologies have opened up opportunities for non-professional participation in the news business.
WikiLeaks, an international non-profit that publishes leaked documents from whistle blowers, is a good example of how the Internet has radically altered the news environment. If the WikiLeaks (wikileaks.org) site is down, a host of mirror sites have been established by supporters.
These online sources for Baltimore news belong to several of the categories presented above.
Unlike traditional newspapers which need large circulations to operate profitably, websites often serve small audiences with similar perspectives. They can afford to be less balanced in the information they provide. A prudent news consumer will get multiple angles!
Evaluating News Sources
News production is never totally objective. Choice of
what to focus on in itself reveals the bias of the producer. In evaluating news from an Internet site, the “follow the money rule” is always helpful. The source of funding tells a lot about the perspective which underlies the news. Look also at the sources that news sites rely on. Do they tend to be government spokespeople? Is opposition ever given a voice?
Press Watchdog Organizations
There are several press watchdog organizations that monitor and critically examine news sources, looking for bias, self-censorship, and inaccuracy. Most come from a particular political viewpoint. Examine claims of non-partisanship carefully.
Nonpartisan Journalism Study Organizations
Some news study organizations conduct unbiased research into the news business and the behaviors of news consumers.
Journalism about Journalism
There are also journals, television programs, and websites which cover journalism and offer insight into the reliability of news coverage.
Do you have more questions about finding news resources online? Please e-mail us, call (410) 396-5451, or contact us by mail:
Enoch Pratt Free Library
State Library Resource Center
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201