Skip to Main Content

Journalism, Communication and New Media

This guide outlines books, article databases and other resources to aid students and faculty researching a topic in journalism.



Books to Get You Started

Why Reference books?

Question: What value lies in a reference work? Why should you bother to consult these books?

Answer: Reference books help create a framework around your topic. They can help guide you in asking the right questions. Reference books can help researchers become more efficient database searchers - in formulating which keywords (or search terms) to use. Scholarly reference books also contain bibliographies (!!) - a listing of some of the most respected secondary and most useful primary sources on a topic. In a nutshell.... reference books are a great way to begin your research.

Catalogue Search

Use the following terms in a subject search to find related items in the library catalogue.

Subject headings to explore:
• Journalism--Style manuals.
• Canadian newspapers--Circulation--Statistics.
• Journalism--Computer network resources.
• Reporters and reporting--Computer network resources.

Books to Get You Started

Here are some awesome books to get you started on your research topic.  Please note: E-Books are restricted to current TRU students, staff and faculty

Reference Books:

Books to Get You Started

Here are some awesome books to get you started on your research topic.  Please note: E-Books are restricted to current TRU students, staff and faculty

Techniques and Issues:

Article Databases

What's a Database?

Article databases contain information about articles, and often include the full-text of the articles as well.

While searching our discovery service will find articles for you, databases allow you do more controlled and precise searching.

Article Databases

Best Bets

Other databases

Keep in mind


Citation Guides

Common Citation Styles

Research Strategies

Research Tips

Some really great resources to consult are:

Quick Links

Fake News

What is "Fake News"?

Fake News is a type of hoax or deliberate spread of misinformation with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically. Fake News is related to propaganda whose purpose is to spread information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.


Fake news is not a new phenomenon. But what makes it important now? It is primarily because fake news is easy to create, spreads rapidly and is easily consumed in our 24/7 news cycle. And it isn't as obvious what is fake news anymore, not like the examples below.


Characteristics of Fake News & Media Bias

Characteristics of Fake News

In the most general form, fake news has three characteristics: 

  • factually inaccurate
  • optimized for sharing
  • meant to obscure or distort with emotions; preying on prejudice or bias

A news story is not fake simply because it is impolite or inconvenient.  A news story that challenges your beliefs or values isn't fake news.   A news story that is rejected by those in power does not make that story a fake news story either.  Case in point, Richard Nixon denied his involvement in Watergate at first too. 

What is not fake news?

Types of Fake News:

  • Clickbait: a story, often sensational or featuring a sensational headline, geared toward getting “clicks” (to generate ad revenue)

  • Sponsored content: a story that is made to appear as independent journalism when in fact it is public relations or advertising

  • Fabricated journalism: news stories that are completely made up (including fabricated quotes and sources, etc.)


Media Bias

No media outlet, even an established one, is completely bias free. All media selects which story is newsworthy.  It is important to recognize that our news outlets will have a readership and stories are written for a particular reader. Bias differs from fake news in that fake news is specifically untrue. Biased sources don't necessarily use lies, they just don't include the whole picture, only using the facts that support their viewpoint. By using only the facts that support their cause they are giving an incomplete and therefore inaccurate picture.

When determining bias look at:

  • Compare headlines and story content
  • Identify politically-charged labels, adjectives, and verbs
  • Question the agenda of sources
  • Consider whether the placement of ideas and sources affects the story’s impact
  • How might the story change if told from another perspective
  • Compare photographs and photo captions to the news stories connected with them
  • Which perspective does data from polls and statistics seem to support

Davis, J. (1990). Beyond the myth of objectivity. Media&Values, (50) Retrieved from

How to Spot Fake News

How to Spot Fake News

Review the web address or URL.  If you see an address that is unfamiliar, do a little digging. 

There are websites that spoof legitimate news sites - mimic the site's layout, logo and even have a web address that is similar enough to the legitimate website.  Be wary of fake news sites sometimes have domains that are very close to real news sites. -- the real ABC news website -- the fake ABC news website


If words like “.wordpress” or “blogger” are in the domain that usually signifies it’s a personal blog rather than a news source.

In other social media platforms you may have to scrutinize the username as well.  In late 2016, there was an announcement from what appeared to be a BBC twitter account declaring that Queen Elizabeth II had died.  It was shared thousands of times before people started to notice that the username was a variation on the real BBC twitter username.  The real BBC twitter username is: @BBCNews and this account was tweeting from @BBCNewsUKI  A close enough match that it fooled thousands of people.

Look for an "About Us" page and read it. 

  • Is the website clear about who is running the site? 
  • Do they state that the website is satirical or full of fake news? 

Be wary of websites that don't tell you about the website. 

There are websites that have, at first glance, innocuous content.  For example, this Martin Luther King website which lists historical writings and "the truth" about King. But look closer.. at the bottom of the page there is a link that states that this website is hosted by Stormfront. 

When you click on the link, you are sent to a neo-Nazi website.


Does the website have a lot of ads? Flashing banners? Pop up ads?

A great deal of money is made by websites through advertising. When you visit a website with lots of ads, you have to ask yourself, what is the purpose of the website?  To transmit news?  Or to generate income through advertising?

Established news webpages will have some advertising.  It really comes down to the proportion of advertising versus news stories.


The example below is fake news for a number of reasons, but look at the prominence and the amount of advertising on this site.

Look for elements that you would expect from an established news source.  Such elements are:

  • Date stamp on the story. The date stamp lets you know when the story was first published. Fake news stories circulate for years.

  • An author or byline. Look for your stories to be signed by the author. Then take that name and put it in a search engine. Is the author legitimate? Have they written other stories?

  • Sources. These are different sources than you would see in an academic article. Credible news stories will often link to other stories or previously published stories. Of course, breaking stories or newly reported stories will not have links to previously published news and that does not make them fake news stories.


Photos play a large part in evoking an emotion when reading a story. Photos can play into our implicit and confirmation biases.  It is easy to save photos off the internet and use them in non-related fake news stories.


Photos can also be photoshopped. We've all seen incredible photos online. When you see something fantastic or unbelieveable, consult your factchecking sites to see if the image has already been debunked.

You can use google image search to help determine the original source of the image.  This is especially useful when you see photos that are too good to be true or seem suspect. On the right you see the original photo of President Obama.  On the left, you see the photo has been switched and someone photoshopped a picture of a cigarette in his mouth.  The doctored photo was shared widely in an attempt to paint President Obama as a liar who had publicly stated that he quit smoking. 

To create a website, not on a blogging platform such as blogger, you have to register your website.  You can run the URL of a webpage through or to see when and who set up the website.

If a website was just recently established, that can be a red flag.

If the website is registered in another country, but posts predominately on stories outside of that country, that can be a red flag.

If the website is registered to an individual, but the website seems to be representing a corporation, that can be a red flag.

People or bots who make fake news create headlines that spark a strong emotional response. Headlines in all CAPS or headlines that are sensational are likely to get shared more frequently. Most fake news stories are shared based on the headline alone and the stories aren't necessarily read. Go past the headline and critically read the story.

For example, this fake news story has an incredibly sensational headline. However, when you read the story you discover that the authors make claims without any supportive documentation, use sensational language throughout the story, don't share their methodology for data collection, editorialize and make suggestive comments within the story.  And the same story, word for word, is shared among many other fake news sites.

Before sharing that scintillating quote, copy and paste it into a search engine to verify if it is real or not.

Fact Checking

Fact Checking

There are non-partisan fact checking organizations that verify information.  These are great places to see if that story or image is real or not.  

Most fact checking organizations focus on political issues.  Snopes is a great place for verifying other types of fake news content. 

How to beat fake news

How to beat fake news

Be savvy information consumers. Stop sharing content that you don't know is true.

  • Break out of your information bubble
    Seek out news from a variety of sources. Traditional news sources are not neutral. All news agencies report or publish stories based on what they consider to be newsworthy. Make it a habit to look at established news sources from all sides of the political spectrum. In addition to this, don't limit how news is delivered to you.  Don't rely on your Facebook or other social media venues to give you your news. 

    While there is no one definitive list of where news sources lie on the political spectrum, Allsides' bias rating does make an attempt to categorize news outlets (primarily US focused).  Pew Research Centre also publishes a list of trusted news agencies by ideological groups. 
  • Use different search engines
    Try using different search engines. Search engines are not neutral. Search engines keep track of your search habits and try to customize your search hits based on your past searching habits and where you live.

    Some alternatives to google are:
  • Know that fake news and biases exist
    Be critical of your own personal, moral and political biases when reading information or news.  Don't get suckered into immediately agreeing with information that matches your personal belief set.
  • Develop a healthy dose of skepticism
    When reading anything, even from traditional news sources, be skeptical. Look for information, photos, language that is meant to sway you to a particular point of view.  Even when reading something from a traditional news source or something that your favourite aunt, nephew or child shares with you.
  • Dig deeper
    Try to verify what you are reading from other sources. Look for those elements that indicate that what you are reading may be fake.
  • Question language, social conventions, and taboos being used to define issues and problems
    How does your news outlet refer to or describe conflict/issues? Inflammatory words, polarizing positioning, stereotypes or imagery.
  • Give breaking news stories time to develop
    The full story takes time to report accurately. Breaking news stories will often get the facts wrong. Give time for a story to be discovered. Hold off on your opinions and judgment on a story until more information is known to reporters.

Anderson, J., & Rainie, L. (2017). The future of the internet and misinformation online. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center.

On The Media. (2013). The breaking news consumer's handbook. Retrieved from

Karlsson, E. (2017). How to defeat technological filter bubbles that skew your world. Retrieved from

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2004). The thinker’s guide for conscientious citizens on how to detect media bias & propaganda. Retrieved from:


Why do people fall for fake news?

Why do people fall for fake news?

Fake News is easy to fall for, for a number of reasons:

  • a growing decline in trust of the media and government
  • people can now create content unburdened by the layers of editing and fact-checking that news organisations adhere to
  • content is aggregated into a single “news” feed – mixing updates from friends and family with identical-looking links to stories across the web
  • lower attention spans
  • fake news stories appeal to our emotions
  • proliferation of internet bots 


We all have biases.  However, it is up to us to recognize those biases and keep them in check.

Implicit bias: implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. Implicit bias is grounded in a basic human tendency to divide the social world into groups. We are inclined to trust people we consider a member of our own group more than those of a different group.  Social media (facebook, twitter and the like) tend cultivate an information bubble - friends and family that share the same values and points of view.


Confirmation bias: is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. We don’t perceive circumstances objectively. We pick out those bits of data that make us feel good because they confirm our preconceived notion of how things are supposed to be.




Lewandowsky, S., Ecker, U. K., & Cook, J. (2017). Beyond misinformation: Understanding and coping with the “post-truth” era. Journal of applied research in memory and cognition, doi:10.1016/j.jarmac.2017.07.008

Tarran, B. (2017). Why facts are not enough in the fight against fake news. Significance, 14(5), 6-7. doi:10.1111/j.1740-9713.2017.01066.x

Fake News Quiz

Grey Literature

What is Grey Literature?

Sometimes the information you need to answer a research question will not be found in academic articles or books. Maybe you need to know the government regulations on a topic, or what a community's resources for housing are.

Grey literature is information that is not published through traditional means (in books, articles, etc.). It often comes from organizations that do not usually publish information and may be more current than commercially published material.

Common examples of grey literature include:

  • Government documents
  • Theses and dissertations
  • Organizational reports
  • Conference proceedings
  • White papers
  • Pamphlets
  • Speeches
  • Newsletters

Some of these material types you can find through library searching, but for others you will need to turn to the web.

Finding Grey Literature

Finding Grey Literature

Lots of grey literature is available online. Did you know there are easy ways to filter what you find from Google searching? Go to Google’s little-known Advanced Search page to find many filters:

Screenshot of part of google advanced search page.

Some of the most useful tools are:

  • Site or domain: For example, if you want to find only things published by the government of Canada, put in this box. All your results will have that domain.
    • Another example is if you want to find resources from the World Health Organization only: enter in this box
  • File type: many reports are in PDF format, so you can choose appropriately from the file type box.
  • Usage Rights: This is very useful if you want to find images that can be used freely.

Tip: Researching about another country?

  • Find out its national domain name and enter that in the site or domain box. For example, you could enter .in for resources from India.
  • Choose the region and/or language to find materials from that country/in the right language. Google can often translate for you if you don’t know the local language!


While organizations may not publish their information commercially, much of this information is still available online. This might include reports, fact sheets, pamphlets, newsletters, and other information they make public on their website.

There are two key ways you can find this information:

  • Search or browse on organization websites. Often there is a search bar, and you can always browse through menus to find the topic you are interested in.
  • Search for either the organization or topic that you are interested in in Google.
    • add filetype:pdf to your Google search to only find PDF documents. Many of the documents you will be interested in will be in PDF form, so this will help you find them.

The "Websites" tab on most subject guides will have several places you can get started with finding organizations and other material on the web.

Below are some examples of organizational grey literature:

Government documents can include Acts and other legislation, policies, and information for the public such as available services, benefit information, and regulations.

Most of this information can be found on either the government of Canada website, or on the websites of the provinces governments.

If you are looking for information about a particular act, make sure you know what it is called in full and search for this full title of the act in Google. This is a quick and easy way to start finding information about an act.

The resources below and in the 'Websites" tab on most subject guides will help you get started with finding government information.

Examples of government documents:

Discover and many databases have limiters for theses and dissertations. Look for these limiters (often checkboxes) on the sidebar of your search results.

You can also find theses written by previous graduate students from TRU:

Visit this guide to learn more about finding dissertations and theses:

Conference proceedings often consist of the most up to date research in a field, since researchers may report on their findings at a conference before an academic paper is published.

Discover and many databases have a limiter for conference materials. Look for these limiters (often checkboxes) on the sidebar of your search results.

In Web of Science, underneath the search bar in the menu "More Settings," choose "Conference Proceedings Citation Index- Social Science & Humanities (CPCI-SSH) --1990-present" to find conference materials.

You can also search the internet for conferences to find presentations.



Evaluating and Citing Grey Literature

Evaluating Grey Literature

Because grey literature is (usually) not peer-reviewed, it is extra important to carefully evaluate the reliability of these sources. Some questions to consider include:

  • Is this information still relevant, or is it out of date?
  • Who produced this information? Do they have a stake in promoting the information in a certain way?
    • For example, companies may prefer if a study portrays their product in a positive light.
  • Why does this information exist? Is it to aid professionals, inform the public, promote a product...?

Citing Grey Literature

Pay careful attention to what type of material you are looking at, as this will determine what guidelines to follow.

Once you know what type of source you have, refer to your citation style guide to find out how to cite it.

If your resource type is not on the TRU citation guide, ask us!

Tip: if you cannot find out how to cite a particular source, try Googling "[citation style] cite [resource type]". For instance, I might search "APA cite conference proceeding" if I could not find out how to cite this from the TRU guides. With commonly used citation styles, often someone authoritative has provided and answer to your citation question.

Ask a Question

How to Ask for Help

New items

Summer 2022