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Background sources for Journalists 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 Journalists

Find researchers, practitioners, experts, advocates, activists, etc. through their company, organization, or association. 

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, Alberta Open Government Portal

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

Academic Background Sources

Featured Books

Local Journalism in a Digital World

The majority of journalism graduates find themselves working in local settings at some point during their careers; this book will equip them with an excellent understanding of the field today, and will also provide rich theoretical insights for students and scholars who are investigating the role and future of local journalism in a digital world.

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.

Hyperlocal Journalism:The decline of local newspapers and the rise of online community news

Draws together a wide range of original research by way of case studies, interviews, and industry and policy analysis, to give a complete view of what is happening to communities as their local newspapers close or go into decline to be replaced by emerging forms of digital news provision.

Data for Journalists A Practical Guide for Computer-Assisted Reporting

How-to guide provides the basics for any reporter or journalism student beginning to use data for news stories. It has step-by-step instructions on how to do basic data analysis in journalism while addressing why these digital tools should be an integral part of reporting in the 21st century.

Apostles of Certainty

From data-rich infographics to 140 character tweets and activist cell phone photos taken at political protests, 21st century journalism is awash in new ways to report, display, and distribute the news. 

News, Numbers and Public Opinion in a Data-Driven World

Comprehensive collection of research into the little understood processes underpinning the uses/misuses of statistical information in journalism and their socio-psychological and political effects.

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Hailey Siracky