Finding sources for stories

October 17th, 2011 by Jack Styczynski

Points of emphasis for critical thinking:

  • Experts should be one of your first thoughts as a source of information on any subject.  They can lend authority, accuracy, balance and credibility to your stories.  They may also refer you to other sources.
  • One good way to find experts is to do a Nexis or Factiva search on your story subject and see who has spoken on the topic in the past.
  • Another way is to seek out local or national organizations related to the topic.  One of my favorite tools is the Encyclopedia of Associations, an “old-fashioned” print resource available in our Research Center.  Online, you can use the school’s related Associations Unlimited account or the universally accessible Gateway to Associations.
  • Also worth checking is the school’s Leadership Library subscription, an online version of the well-known “Yellow Books.”  You can find contact information for the leaders of major United States government, business, professional, and non-profit organizations.
  • Government employees can often be of help.  Any New York City reporter should have the latest copy of the Green Book.
  • Many colleges and universities provide access to faculty and staff experts via their web sites, including CUNY and other local schools.   There are also web sites specifically devoted to connecting journalists with experts, such as ProfNet and the Yearbook of Experts.
  • Sources need not always be subject experts.  Acquaintances of people or witnesses to events would be prime examples.  ReferenceUSA is a great tool to find such sources.

For more ideas on finding experts, see Barbara Gray’s guide.

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