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Background sources for stories are resources and tools used by journalists to find out about sources: public records, government and corporate information, data and statistics.
Academic background sources are things like encyclopedias, handbooks, and dictionaries that provide big picture information on a topic. Use these sources to find out about key definitions, concepts, theories, methods, people, and events you're reporting on.

Background Sources for Stories

Search for people through their company, organization, or association.

Try Google Scholar

Search keywords appropriate to the expert you're looking for and the name or email address of a local institution where such experts are likely to be. *Remember to limit to the current few years to increase your chances of finding a current expert.

Examples searches:

  • concussion hockey ucalgary
  • environment water mtroyal
  • election campaigns "mount royal university"

Search for company tax filings, annual reports, financial statements, press releases, etc.

The Parliament of Canada website contains useful information on parliamentary business, members, current and past debates, bills, speeches, committee reports, and more. The same type of information relevant to the provincial and municipal levels can be found on the websites of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and the City of Calgary.

The transcripts of debates among MPs, MLAs, Senators and Councillors provide rich information on issues being addressed by government and members' arguments on all sides of those issues.

More Sources of Government Information:

Statistics and Data can be gathered by different levels of government, or non-governmental organizations.

Federal: Statistics Canada

Provincial: Alberta Office of Statistics and Information

Municipal: City of Calgary Open Data

For stats and data not collected by government agencies, think of who would have an interest in collecting and disseminating those stats and data. This could be a non-profit, community-based organization, professional association, agency, think tank, or research institute.

Examples: WorldBank, UNdata,  Calgary Transit, CAPP, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Find many more resources on the Statistics and Data Research Guide

Reference Books

Academic Background Sources

Featured Books

A World History of Photography

Classic history of photography traces the evolution of this young art form chronologically and thematically. Exploring the diverse roles that photography has played in the communication of ideas, Rosenblum devotes special attention to topics such as portraiture, documentation, advertising, and photojournalism, and to the camera as a means of personal artistic expression.

Digital Journalism Studies

Offers a particular focus on developments in digital media technologies and their implications for all aspects of the working practices of journalists and the academic field of journalism studies, as well as the structures, funding and products of the journalism industries. A selection of entries include the topics: Artificial intelligence; Citizen journalism; Clickbait; Drone journalism; Fake news; Hyperlocal journalism; Native advertising; News bots; Non-profit journalism; User comment threads; Viral news; WikiLeaks.

Broadcast News Handbook

Enables students and professionals to become better writers and better journalists. Backed by 50 years of combined broadcast journalism experience, the authors provide helpful discussions and expert knowledge on crafting language, packaging stories, and overcoming the fundamental challenges of being a young broadcast journalist in the digital era. A new focus on social media brings students full force into the world of cutting-edge reporting.

Canadian broadcasting regulatory handbook, 2017

The standard reference in Canada on the Broadcasting Act, cabinet directions to the CRTC, broadcasting regulations, exemption orders, regulatory codes and CRTC policy statements other than those solely relating to radio, all updated to October 12, 2017. The handbook includes a fully annotated copy of the Broadcasting Act and an index by subject matter. Also included are the CRTC policies, codes and regulations and references to the Creative Canada Policy Framework, announced by the government in 2017.

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Hailey Siracky