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News and Media: 4. Media sources

Media as a source

The goal of media is to convey a message to the audience through the most appropriate media channel.

Media, such as documentaries or news broadcasts can be valuable resources when researching most topics. Fact-based or educational broadcasts will often contain presentations of information that has been well-researched. News broadcasts on the other hand usually contains real-accounts well-sourced current information. 

Media such as documentaries will often provide an overview of a topic. To gain information on the topic, the documentaries can include interviews or insights of people. Due to the length of time it takes to produce media like this, these will not usually be good source for very current information. 

With most research projects, it is a good idea to use media alongside other resources. This will enable you to get both an in-depth outlook on your topic as well as keep up to date with current developments in the field.

Information Sources


You can find Information anywhere — books, diaries, social media, blogs, personal experiences, magazine articles, expert opinions, encyclopedias, and web pages — and the type of information you need will vary depending on the question you are trying to answer for your assignment or research.

Different assignments require information from a variety of sources; therefore, you need to understand where to go to find certain types of information. Knowing what type of source you need will also help you find the correct source.

There are three broad categories of sources:

  • primary
  • secondary and
  • tertiary

Take a look through these tabs for definitions and a few examples.

Primary sources are original materials on which other research is based. They are firsthand documents that provide direct evidence on your topic.


  • Diaries

  • Speeches

  • Correspondence

  • Interviews

  • Manuscripts

  • Government Documents

  • News film footage

  • Archival Materials

  • Autobiographies 

  • Art works

  • Novels

  • Poetry

  • Music

  • Architectural drawings/plans

  • Photographs

  • Film
Secondary sources are the interpretation, commentary or analysis of other sources. They are accounts written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. Secondary sources are not evidence, but rather commentary on and discussion of evidence.
  • Bibliographies

  • Biographical works

  • Commentaries, criticisms

  • Conference proceedings

  • Essays or reviews

  • Histories

  • Research articles in academic journals

  • Magazine and newspaper articles

  • Monographs, other than fiction and autobiographies

  • Reprints of art works

Tertiary sources are organisation, categorisation, index or collection of sources. A tertiary source presents summaries or condensed versions of materials, usually with references back to the primary and/or secondary sources. 


  • Dictionaries

  • Encyclopedias

  • Handbooks

  • Almanacs

  • Abstracts 

  • Bibliographies

  • Fact books and digests

  • Directories and guidebooks

  • Indexing and abstracting sources