Using the News
Finding and using news sources can be as simple as briefly reading the headlines from your local paper to spending some time looking through McGill’s microfilm holdings. There are many different types of news sources available, and depending on your needs you might turn to print newspapers, online newspapers, digitized newspapers, aggregators, microform, or a combination of multiple formats, since many newspapers are available in more than one. Here is a introduction to the different kinds of newspaper formats you will see at McGill.
Print Newspapers are both excellent and poor resources. Once printed, the information is static, and so can’t be changed later on by third parties (such as by an editor, a hacker, or a government). However, to find what you are looking for, you must look at each page, which is time consuming. Also, newsprint ages very poorly, and is very difficult to preserve. Due to this problem, many libraries, including McGill, keep back issues of newspapers in microform only.
The Humanities and Social Sciences Library at McGill has print newspapers available on the main floor.
Online Editions of Print Newspapers
Many newspapers have their own online edition. They may have the same content and layout as the print edition, but they can include additional content, such as articles available only online, as well as more up-to-date headlines and links to related news items. They can also have their own archive of back issues, which may not be included in other databases or aggregators.
These are newspapers that have the articles, the layout, the advertisement and the photographs all preserved together. They may be full-text searchable, or only an image of the original newspaper page. They can be of widely varying quality, and if the original text was damaged or degraded, they can be difficult to read.
Aggregators (newsstreams, article databases):
News databases and aggregators collect news from many sources and make it available in one location, in a searchable format. They may include newswires, news journals, blogs, podcasts, transcripts from radio and tv, as well as websites. Most of the time you can directly access full text articles, although some databases only contain links to articles, not the articles themselves. It is important to note that news articles from databases and aggregators may not include the photos or graphics which accompanied the article. Also, articles available through the Aggregator may or may not change throughout the day, as newspaper print later editions. Sometimes the article on updated online, and the earlier content disappears, sometimes they are not updated.
These do not contain articles themselves. An newspaper index is alphabetical list of news articles, sorted by subject, by name, or in other ways. Some newspaper indexes only list birth, marriage and death notices, and not articles. An index can feature information from only one newspaper, or from a certain category of newspaper, such as all the newspaper from a particular city. Indexes are useful when you need to find information in a newspaper that has not been made full text searchable, that has not been digitized at all, or is only available on microform. Indexes let you know where to start looking.
Microform (Microfilm, microfiche, digital microfilm)
Microform is the term for all kinds of reproductions of documents that are made smaller than the original. Microform formats like microfilm and microfiche are very useful for preserving newspapers, as they take up much less space and are much more stable over time than newsprint. Also, microform lets fragile or rare articles be consulted by researchers without exposing the original to handling, which may damage it. Microform doesn’t need special computer or technology to view it, as it is possible to read Microform with a magnifying glass. However, as McGill has many, many newspapers in this format, the library has microform readers which allow for easy reading and use. Some microform is available digitally, which means you can view it in your browser.
Word Cloud made using WordItOut