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Browsing Contemporary Media for Research

The question was posed today: How can I search the internet for articles from popular news sources? The subsequent conversation took us through three websites, and two databases.

Going straight to the source:

If you’re interested in browsing popular media for articles about hot button issues or recent events don’t be afraid to go straight to your favorite newspaper, magazine, or 24 hours news network. 99.9% of the time each organization will allow to browse through months (or more) of recent articles before requiring any form of membership or fee. This can be a quick and easy way of gathering articles, or it can be a difficult one. It’s recommended you take a few moments to consider your sources and decide on the quality of the reporting, the accuracy, and whether any bias exists. Quoting from Opinion editorials might not always be such a good idea – try to stick with the news, unless of course your aim is to write about opinion. Also, balance out your sources. If you decide to pull an article or an Op-Ed from a particularly liberal source, why not go ahead and pull a piece from a conservative one? It doesn’t hurt to look at the picture from every angle.

Open Congress

Personally, I think every American should have an active account(which is free) on www.opencongress.org. Open Congress allows the American citizen to follow members of Congress in an organized fashion that provides voting history, a biography, a “money trail” of how much the congress member has received and from who, as well as a collection of news and blog coverage the congresss member has accrued. Open Congress can also be used to contact congress members, partake in conversations about current issues, and read bills. It’s an essential tool to any modern democracy.

Utilizing what the library has to offer:

The databases @ RCC include Newsbank & Factiva. Newsbank is a great resource for searching periodicals from across the country including everything from national publications to small town newspapers. Simply access the “America’s Newspapers” link and begin your search. You can narrow your search by location, media type, and date, while also organizing your results by headline, section, etc. Similarly Factiva allows a user to browse over 8000 publications while also serving as the exclusive archive of the Wall Street Journal. Take note that Factiva has a focus on business, allowing users to search company and industry listings as well as the Dow Jones Industrial Index.

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