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?  Here are some tools to help the responsible news consumer  to evaluate the news:

Finding News Sources

Subscription Databases

 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.

Blogs

While most bloggers blog under the banner of established Web sites, veteran blogger, Andrew Sullivan is currently exploring a new subscription model of independent blogging.

Web Newspaper/Locators

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."

  Front Page Image Files

 Web-Archives Links

Some Web sites archive print newspapers.

News Agency Web Sites

News agencies employ teams of reporters to produce news  which is reprinted or rebroadcast by news outlet subscribers.

News Media Web Sites

Besides newspaper Web sites, there are radio and television news Web sites.

Grass Roots Journalism Sites

Web technologies have opened-up opportunities for non-professional participation in the news business.

WikiLeaks

 WikiLeaks , an international, non-profit that publishes leaked documents from whistleblowers, 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.

Local News

These online sources for Baltimore news belong to several of the categories presented above.

 Unlike traditional newspapers which need large circulations to operate profitably, Web sites 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. Also look 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 truly non-partisan 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 Web sites which cover journalism and offer insight into the reliability of news coverage.

Ask Us

Do you have more questions about finding news resources online? Please e-mail> us, call (410) 396-5451, or contact us by mail:

Periodicals Department
Enoch Pratt Free Library
State Library Resource Center
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201