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Using News Sources: 5. Search Activities

Online tutorial designed to help you make the most of online news sources

The best way to become familiar with the online news sources is to learn by doing. 

If you already have a topic or news source in mind that you would like to explore, just logon to a database and start searching.

You can access all the News Databases from the A-Z listing. --Access news databases here --

The various news service will differ in their 'look and feel' but you will be able to apply the same search strategy principles across all the online services. 

You can always get in touch if you need further assistance - see the Getting Help tab.

If you are not sure where to start, you can try the activities below and/or use the quiz.  These will give you a chance to explore logging in and searching a couple of the key news resources.

Nexis UK: search activity

  • Login To Nexis 

  • Select News then Europe then United Kingdom

  • Choose the Select Source to search button and then use the A-Z source list and select

    • The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday

    • The Times (London)
    • The Daily Telgraph (London)
  • Search for the phrase "war on plastic"

  • View the results.

  • Take a look at the timeline so you can see when this phrase began to be used in reporting in these three news sources

  • Scroll down to the Publication Name section under the Narrow by options.  Here you can see how many articles appeared in each of the three newspapers.

  • Narrow your search by going to the Search within results option on the Narrow by menu.  Include the word turtles.  Note how this limits your search results.

Proquest Historical Newspapers: search activity

You have access to many archive/historical newspapers via the Proquest Historical Newspapers collection.

The newspaper content is available in facsimile reproduction, i.e. as it appeared in print, and this offers a very rich research experience.


Example content: New York Times: via Proquest Historical news




1. Take a look through the Proquest News LibGuide to learn more about searching and viewing news via Proquest.


2. Select a Proquest News database and search for a topic of your choice



3. View your results and download or email an article of interest.



You can access all the available Proquest news resourecs from the link below.

Date Range activities

Always consider the time period you want to encompass with your news searching.

In many cases you will find that current news coverage is available on one news service, such as the news aggregator services like Nexis UK and Factiva, whilst the historical content is on other services such as Proquest Historical Newspapers.


Example Source: New York Times


Proquest Historical Newspaper coverage 


Nexis coverage

1980 to date


In this case, Nexis would be ideal for the latest New York Times commentary and the Proquest Historical Newspaper archive version would be ideal for tracing early news from the newspaper title or tracing a topic over several decades.

New York Times - Proquest archive

It is easy to access the archive content of the New York Times from Proquest as it appears in the Database A-Z list.  

  • Use the link below and log in to the New York Times

  • Search for Brexit to find and view a small number of articles on the topic.  

For contemporary topics such as Brexit, you would be better searching the New York Times coverage on Nexis Uk

New York Times on Nexis

  • Login to Nexis UK using the link below. 

  • Locate the New York Times and use the i symbol to access the Source Description for the New York Times and find out on what date in 1980 ths coverage starts in Nexis.

  • Run a search for Brexit in the New York Times

  • Look at the Timeline on the results page - under the Narrow by options.  You can see at a glance when the term Brexit started to appear in the press coverage of the New York Times.

Comparing Formats: activity

Facsimile v text reproduction

In some cases you will choose a news database on the basis of the format of the news items.   

For example, Nexis reproduces the text only of newspaper articles and does not include content like graphs, photographs, advertisements etc.

The archive services like Proquest Historical Newspapers are facsimile reproductions of the printed papers, e.g a scanned image of the news items appear as they did in the original print copy.

You may prefer the facsimile reproduction versions if you are interested in any illustrative elements like photographs, tables and graphs. You would also need to use the facsimile versions if you wanted to look at things like advertisements. 

If you were interested in examining things like placement of the article on the page, size of the headline or surrounding articles then you would also need the facsimile version.

As well as the online historical archives databases, the newspaper microfilm versions provide a facsimile reproduction of print newspapers.  However, the microfilm versions are not searchable like the online databases.

Take a look at the following article on the Nexis UK databases and the Proquest Historical Newspaper database.  Note the different research experience on the two platforms.

Article: Freinkel, S. (2011, Mar 18).
Plastic: Too good to throw away.
 New York Times 


News Quiz

If you'd like to take a look at a few more online news sources, use this quiz to guide you. 

You'll need to log into a few different news sources to find all the answers.


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