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Intentional Web: Purposeful Use of Web Resources for Academic Research: News Sources & Feeds

The guide seeks to help students and other researchers use web-based resources with thoughtfulness and discernment.

News Outlets Online

The web is filled with all sorts of “news” emanating from all sorts of sources -- sometimes divergent and contradictory sources -- so it’s important to consciously manage our choices and seek out news venues that are reliable, trustworthy, and exercise strong editorial oversight.

Some major news agencies – Reuters & United Press International, for instance – have a significant online presence with current news and some searchable back files. 

Most major news papers – the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times, the Washington Post – also have substantive websites with some sort of limited searchable histories.  Memorial Library provides a number of specialized databases that not only identify major news outlets but also allow users to search both contemporary and historic newspapers.

In addition, there are several online sites that aggregate news sources or stories.  Among them are IPL2 and ABYZ Newslinks. Newseum also offers connections to the daily front pages (and websites) of more than 900 papers in 84 countries around the world.

Be cautious, however, when assessing any online resources…even these reputable organizations may allow commercial links to other less dependable websites.

Howard Schneider, Dean of Stony Brook's School of Journalism, delivers a lecture on "news literacy" at Case Western University

"Dewey Defeats Truman," photo by W. Eugene Smith

RSS Feeds

RSS feeds are straight forward means of distributing newly released content from one website to another, and, for a researcher in any given field, RSS feeds are an excellent way to stay abreast of ongoing developments in that area or discipline.

Organizations of various kinds use RSS feeds to syndicate news and information for various purposes.  A corporation may use RSS feeds to share press releases, publicity, and promotional materials.  Other organizations may use them to announce up-coming events or release reports and updates on ongoing initiatives. 

RSS feeds are frequently employed by news outlets to make breaking stories and headlines available.  And any number of scholarly or academic organizations, including disciplinary journals, may use them as an information stream, announcing recent findings, discoveries, and research results. 

Below, for example, is an RSS feed from the Annual Review of Anthropology.  Content will change as new releases are fed out from the host site.

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