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Guide to local, national, and international news sources, including recent and historical news coverage.

Newspapers as Primary Sources

We may think of newspapers as sources of objective reporting on current events, but they are so much more complex! Newspapers record historical events, but they do so in a way that reflects the concerns, opinions, and debates of their communities, which may be local, national, or international. Furthermore, a newspaper is also a business, a platform for advertisements, and a commodity for sale. Thus, while we can rely on newspapers to relay the latest news of its time and place, that news is a filtered version of everything that happened, framed in such a way to meet both the goals of the paper as a business and to capture the attention and interest of a target audience of readers.

When interpreting newspapers, consider the following:

  • What is the social context of the newspaper?
    • Who owns the newspaper?
    • Who are its readers?
  • What is the format of the newspaper?
    • How are articles, advertisements, and other content laid out on the page?
    • Which content is given most prominence to attract readers' attention?
    • Which content is "buried," either in smaller font or on less prominent pages?
  • What is the content of the article?
    • What do we know about the author?
    • Who are the author's sources?
    • What are the author's underlying assumptions or point of view? (These could be partisan, policy-based, economic, racial or ethnic, regional, geopolitical, and/or class-based, just to name a few.)
    • What relevant information is left out?

This method of newspaper analysis is adapted from:

Bonus: Want to learn more about U.S. newspapers and newspaper publishing before the Civil War. Check out these great tutorial videos and bibliography put together by the librarians at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Finding Newspapers

Newspapers are organized by their place of publication, so the best way to find them is by city, state, or country. For newspapers in the United States, the Library of Congress's Chronicling America is the best resource to discover the newspapers that were--and still are--published across the country. Keep in mind that mergers and name changes were very common. The Library of Congress records each name change as a separate entry, but the description of each paper usually includes a note on the previous or succeeding titles.

You can also discover newspapers by searching the OneSearch, the FSU Library catalog. Combine the city, state or country you need along with the keyword "Newspapers" and you should get a list of available newspapers, both on microfilm and digital. Look for the dates of publication to determine which newspapers will cover the time period you need.

Center for Research Libraries

The CRL catalog allows you to search for newspapers by country and/or state!

The Florida State University Libraries

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