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Newspapers and other online news sources from the 17th – 21st centuries: Common problems

A guide to historical and current newspapers and news sources, covering the 17th to 21st centuries. Includes searching tips, outline common problems and lists key resources available to Oxford scholars.

Common problems

Common problems with full-text digital newspapers include:

  • Different platforms: resources are provided by a number of different companies. Their platform differ and each will have slightly different search and export functions. The good news is that a number of newspapers are provided by some of the larger companies, e.g. Cengage, ProQuest.
  • Can't cross-search all newspapers unless they are by the same provider (e.g. ProQuest, Nexis UK, Factiva)
  • Different content coverage: some online newspapers resources are complete, others may only have historical or current content.
  • Missing content in digital editions of contemporary newspapers: whilst vast amounts of content are available some is missing. This is particularly true of pictures that appear in newspapers and content by free lance journalists. Copyright is often retained by the freelancer and as a result digitized versions are not able to make the freelance content available.
  • Most online versions of contemporary online newspapers do not retain formatting and layout: the vast majority of electcronic versions of contemporary newspapers do not retain formatting and layout. They give you the text but do not show how it appears on the page. This can be a huge handicap, if you’re interested in knowing how much prominence was given to a particular story. There are some exceptions to this as on slide.
  • Searching vast amount of information is challenging. Use our search tips to refine your query.
  • Printing to A4 from e.g. broadsheets is notoriously difficult, esp. if the article is spread over several columns. Many providers give assistance in deciding which part of a page or article to print out.
  • Quality of scans is sometimes poor: text can be faint, the scan distorted due to tightly bound original, the original may be in poor condition already.