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News Literacy

Types of News Sources

"News is information about a recent event that the hearer did not know about previously."  (Harcup, 2004). News outlets produce news, including:

  • Newspapers (e.g. The New York Times,  The Guardian, USA Today)
  • Magazines (e.g. Newsweek, Time)
  • Broadcast news (e.g. CNN, NPR, PBS, BBC)
  • Internet/online news outlets (e.g. Slate, Vox)

News outlets connect readers to newsworthy current events by employing journalists. Professional journalists have background education/training and follow a journalism code of ethics.

Many news outlets also hire commentators and columnists to write about certain topics. These articles often appear in the opinion section of the news.

Citation: Harcup, T. (2004) Journalism: Principles and Practice. London: Sage.

Identifying Types of News Sources

What is News?

  • The writer reports the news. People’s opinions may appear as part of that reporting (“According to Mr. Smith…”), but the writer does not explicitly present his/her own views.
News Article An article written to inform readers about recent events. The author reports essential information (who/what/where/when/why/how).
News Analysis An article written to inform readers about recent events. The author reportsand attempts to deepen understanding of recent events—for example, by providing background information and other kinds of additional context.
Feature Article

Compared with news articles, feature articles are often more creative or exploratory and less focused on efficient delivery of essential information.

Other types of news content that are generally categorized as “feature” writing include how-to-do-it articles (for example, how to shop for a new phone) and profiles (for example, an article about a movie actor starring in a recently-released film).

What is Opinion?

  • The writer shares his or her own views and explicitly seeks to persuade readers to adopt those views as their own.
Editorial An unsigned opinion piece that represents the views of the news organization’s editorial staff.
Opinion Piece An opinion article by a staff columnist or guest columnist. (If a guest columnist, the writer’s credentials will almost always be identified.)
Review An evaluation of a book, movie, album, live performance, etc.

Adapted from: News or Opinion? by Christine Photinos is licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.

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