Information Sources: Newspapers and Magazines
Unlike the web, newspapers and magazines have editorial policies and standards that mean what they publish should be of reasonable quality. Efforts may be made to check the accuracy of articles before they are published, but there may be more of an emphasis placed upon entertaining than informing Newspapers and magazines can be classified as follows:
- print publications issued at regular intervals (usually daily) and concentrating on current events ("news"), though they may include politics, business, gossip and sports often include material such as opinion columns, editorials, weather forecasts, reviews, birth & death notices, crosswords and puzzles, TV listings and recipes.
- are aimed at a general audience
- some newspapers, which have high editorial standards and publish good quality journalism are considered to be "newspapers of record" and are thought of as being authoritative. In Ireland, the Irish Times would be considered a newspaper of record.
- Newspaper articles are usually written by journalists or freelance writers.
- Information sources used to help write articles are not referenced
- Popular magazines
- these publications are written for a general audience. Topics covered include celebrity gossip, fashion, sports and hobbies & crafts.
- main purpose is to entertain
- articles will again be written by journalists or freelance writers
- any information sources used to help write articles are not referenced
- Serious magazines
- offering a little more depth, these magazines focus on more technical or drier topics such as current events, science and business.
- the writers of articles in these publications are usually journalists but may also include people with a background in the topic.
- articles probably won't be referenced.
- Trade & professional publications
- geared towards people working in a particular area (e.g plumbing [trade] or psychology [professional]) , these tend to contain news, commentary, ‘how to’ articles, practical advice and product information as well articles about current issues and trends of interest to people in that field
- articles may be written by specialists or journalists
- articles may or may not have references (articles professional publications are more likely to have references than trade publications)
Be aware that even though there's a reasonable guarantee of quality in terms of editorial standards, that may not extend to coverage being fair or objective. Many newspapers will have distinct political leanings and both what is covered and how it is written may be biased.
Any of these types of publications can be used as information sources, but their use will depend on what you are trying to do. Newspapers and popular magazines will be good for seeing how a particular (pop culture) topic is treated by the media, while more serious magazines are good for background information and more in-depth coverage. Trade and professional publications are useful for specialist information.
For example, suppose you were looking at Pokemon Go. Newspapers and popular magazines would tell you how popular or newsworthy Pokemon Go was at a particular time. More serious publications might talk about the profitability of Pokemon Go, while a publication aimed at teachers might have articles about Pokemon Go in the classroom.
Advantages of newspapers and magazines
- Up-to-date coverage of events, news and opinion
- Include images
- Wide variety of content
- Can include reliable information as well as some facts and figures
- Easy to find
- Some accessible specialist information
- Can be biased and unreliable
- May be influenced by political loyalties
- Main emphasis is on entertaining rather than informing
- No real depth