JOUR 11100: Introduction to Journalism

About this Guide

This Guide will cover basic skills for collecting information such as:
  • How to find a citation
  • Finding books
  • Selecting a database
  • Planning your search strategy
  • Sample searches for types of information: Biography, News, Business, & Websites

Best Bets

These are library subscription databases that aggregate news (search more than one paper at a time).  The databases have numerous ways to form search strategies, search limiters, and are primarily full-text.  To find what newspaper is in what database, try a journal title search (see "Finding a Citation" below).   If you are looking at the database list, click on the "i" button to find database descriptions.

Finding a Citation

You want to find this citation:   
Opening Shot. (2012). Columbia Journalism Review, 51(3), 3

Examine your citation and determine the publication title (NOT the article title).  In this case it is the Columbia Journalism Review.
  1. Click on the Articles tab on the library's homepage.  Under the "Journals" box, type your title in the box after "Title begins with" and click go.  You'll access a screen displaying the library's fulltext access to either print, microfilm, or electronic resources.  If there is none, you'll see a link to borrow the article via Interlibrary Loan.
  2. Examine the volume and year of your citation. The volume in the citation above is 51 and it was published in 2012.  Compare this information to the fulltext holdings.  Communication Source  has the Columbia Journalism Review from 1962 to present.
  3. You can click on the year 2012, choose issue volume 51 issue 3, and then browse to the article OR you can click on "Search within this publication" ; put the author's last name in the second box + choose AU author from the drop-down menu ; put a keyword from the title such as "opening" in the third box and choose TI from the drop-down menu; hit search.  This should bring your right to the fulltext!  If you did not receive results, double-check your spelling.

Finding books, e-books, journal titles, dvds

  • Search the library's catalog on the library's homepage for a known item by title or author.  If you want to search generally by keyword, use the Advanced Search form
    Example: Keyword Anywhere(students youth citizens) AND Keyword Anywhere(voting campaign election)
    Note: a question mark will truncate your search: citizen? will retrieve books on citiizens and citizenshipship. 
  • Expand your search with subject headings (“more like this”)
  • Narrow your search by date or by searching using narrower terms (ex. "identity" is narrower than "psychology").
  • Click on the title and check the status and location.  Jot down the call number. 
  • Click "Where?" next to the Status to find the location in stacks:
    General stacks A-HA (4th floor)
    General stacks HB-Z (5th floor)
  • If the location is Multimedia, write down the DVD or CD number and check out the item at the desk on the 3rd floor of the library (one flight up and to your left).   You can search the Film tab to find DVDs more easily. It includes information about our Multimedia services.
  • Although e-books are in the library's catalog, you can search the whole collection here: Ebook Central (formerly ebrary)
  • If we don't have a book, search for it in WorldCat via FirstSearch ; click the Interlibrary Loan link to make a request.

Database Selection by Subject / Beat

Look at other Research Guides > subjects  tab for subject specific / "beat" information. Many library subject guides list out top resources for each subject area.   Try and identify top journals or newswires in your field and set up email, follow them in Twitter or create RSS alerts.  Alerts can be done directly from the journals website  For example, if you are on the Entertainment beat, set up alerts to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.  Library databases offer alerts but require you to create accounts; library databases may offer fulltext holdings whereas the online journal may offer partial full-text to non-subscribers. 

Research Strategy Worksheet

1. Write down your research topic / story idea and circle the keywords:
2. Consider the key words you've circled.  Are there broader, narrower or related terms that can be searched? Write down these alternative keywords and use them to write a search strategy. Like terms are ORd together.

3. What are the subjects of the terms? Write down 1 or 2 subjects and corresponding databases. Subjects can be: art, business, politics, science, etc.
SUBJECT 1:                                                SELECT THIS DATABASE:
SUBJECT 2:                                                SELECT THIS DATABASE:
4. Consider how you can use a variety of sources for your story idea.  If you're not sure, consult with Cathy. 
Generally: biographies, dictionaries, directories, almanacs, encyclopedias, etc.)

Facts on File World News Digest
Facts on File World News Digest provides Information on issues, events, and people from 1940 to the present. Features include country profiles, primary documents, key issues, newsmaker profiles, and newspaper editorials. The database incorporates World Almanac and Book of Facts. (
Academic Search Premier
Multi-disciplinary database which includes a large collection of peer-reviewed journals in many areas of academic study including: archaeology, area studies, astronomy, biology, chemistry, ethnic & multicultural studies, law, mathematics, music, physics, psychology, religion & theology, women's studies, and other fields.  Coverage varies, but begins in the 1990s for most journals. , Academic OneFile , ProQuest Research Library
Organizational & governmental information
Nexis Uni (replaces LexisNexis) (case law, codes, law reviews)
        STATISTICS & Polls ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States
HA202 .U5
The authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. The final edition from the US Census is the 2012 edition.  The current editions by ProQuest are in  Reference behind the Research Help Desk.
Polling the Nations
Pew Research


Codes of Ethics for Journalists (a select list) Plagairism Copyright - Fair Use
  • Set of Principles in Fair Use for Journalism
    "This Set of Principles reduces risk of copyright infringement by clarifying professional community standards. It identifies seven situations in which journalists routinely employ fair use, and what its limitations are: Incidental capture; proof; use in cultural journalism; illustration; historical reference; to foster public discussion and advancing the story."

Contact Us

picture of Cathy Michael
Communications Librarian
(607) 274-1293

Search Argos

LexisNexis Help: News searching

LexisNexis maintains a wiki of help screens to their product.  The library subscribes to an Academic product for colleges and universities. There are other professional and subscription products sold to practitioners; the content may differ based on what is licensed.

You may need to limit your results using boolean search operators or searching specific sections of a document:
  • Boolean searching  This page lists and defines proximity operators such as w/p (words within the same paragraph), w/s (words within the same sentence), atleast (you can say you want a word to appear atleast5 -- at least 5 times in the article which increases the relevancy), etc.
  • Advanced Search: Build your own search.  If you want to search by headline, byline, city, company geographic region, person, publication, etc. you may have build a search using segments.  This page explains what segments are and how to build a search.
These are wiki pages that define specific searchs in LexisNexis Academic:

Related Guides:

Related journalism guides:
  • Independent Media: lists resources for indy media.
  • Journalism: this is a general resource that lists a wide variety of journalism resources.
  • J Research  course guide for journalism research
Library Writing and Research guides:
  • Finding Articles: this guide has screen shots
  • Search Strategies: discusses search strategy construction including Boolean search language and truncation.
  • Citation: this is a tab on the library's website that includes self-help learning widgets, links to citation manuals and citing software, and additional guides for scholarly writing.

AP Stylebook

There is a copy at the Reference Desk in the library -- just ask the librarian on duty to borrow it.  
Associated Press (AP) stylebook and briefing on media law
REF DESK PN4783 .A83
Journalism style manual that includes basic media law information. Issued annually.  Ask to see it at the Reference Desk.

Evaluating Websites, Media Relations

Use the following criteria:
  • Accuracy: can you spot spelling errors or “fishy” statements?
  • Authority: who wrote the information on the website?    Is the author/s a professional or professional organization? Try and find out more about them.
  • Objectivity:  after reading about the purpose for the site, does the author or organization have a point of view that might slant or present information falsely? Check the “about” page. Is there a political slant? Are there advertisements; is someone trying to sell you an idea or product? 
  • Currency: when was the website last updated? Check the bottom of the page. Are there broken links? When was the latest information posted?
  • Appearance and layout:  does it appear professionally arranged? Does it load with ease?
Question everything, but generally official U.S./state government (.gov) and education (.edu) sites are more trustworthy than commercial (.com) and personal websites. 

Note that big corporations will often have a Media Relations page; for example, here is one from Chesapeake Energy.  Also look for Media Relations when seeking experts at colleges and universities; for example here is Ithaca College's Media Relations page. Organizations will also have contacts; for example, Shaleshock.  Government representatives always have multiple ways to contact them; for example Rep. Tom Reed  or, the Department of Enviornmental Conservation.  Seek a variety of perspectives from people in business, government, academic, and individual citizens.

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