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CRJU 2100: Introduction to Criminal Justice (Kopf): News Sources

This guide contains suggested resources for completing assignments in CRJU 2100.


Before we set out to look for news sources about criminal justice topics, it's important to have some context in mind. What is news? What is journalism?

"Journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information. It is also the product of these activities." -American Press Institute

What are some characteristics of trustworthy news sources? What kind of information is shared in news stories? Who writes the news? 

Journalists who write about crime and public safety gather and convey sensitive and complex information. The sensitive nature of this information compounds when it involves minors or historically marginalized populations. What is a journalist's responsibility?

Types of news articles: news or opinion?

News articles:

  • written to inform readers about recent events
  • author reports essential information (who, what, where, when, why, how)

News Analysis:

  • written to inform readers about recent events
  • author reports and attempts to deepen understanding of recent events—for example, by providing background information and other kinds of additional context

Feature articles:

  • more creative or exploratory and less focused on efficient delivery of essential information
  • categories of feature articles include: how-to-do-it articles and profiles

Credit: News or opinion? By Christine Photinos (permission to use via Creative Commons license: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Investigative Journalism:

  • author investigates a singular topic of interest thoroughly, which may take months or years


  • unsigned opinion piece that represents the views of the news organization's editorial staff

Opinion pieces:

  • opinion article by a staff columnist or guest columnist


  • evaluation of a book, movie, album, etc.

Credit: News or opinion? By Christine Photinos (permission to use via Creative Commons license: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Select keywords for your search

Try multiple searches with similar or related terms

  • a search for sentencing will bring successful results, but you might also try mandatory minimum to find additional results.
  • while juvenile is the term widely used is criminal justice conversations to refer to young people, words like youth or adolescent will also result in relevant sources

Having trouble finding articles from competing view points? Try adding keywords such as:

  • debate
  • controversy
  • change
  • reform
  • advocate
  • inequities
  • disparities

Where to search for news sources

One of the advantages to searching in newspaper databases is the ability to filter your results by article type, date, geography, and more.

Search with keywords that describe your topic in Google's single search bar. Select the "news" button above your list of results.

If you are asked to subscribe in order to read the content, check to see if Jerome Library has a subscription. Follow the steps below.

  1. Begin at the BGSU Libraries home page [linked below] and select the "Journals by title" link underneath the search box.
  2. Search for the title of the newspaper in which the article was published.
  3. If BGSU has a subscription, you will see one or more options for accessing the newspaper. Below these, you will see a search box to "search inside this journal".
  4. Type the first four or five words of the article title into the search box.
  5. A new window will pop up with your search results. Find the result that matches the article title (if more than one result appears). [If you get no results, return to step 3 and select one of the options for accessing the newspaper with the date range that includes the date your article was published.]
  6. Click on "full text online" OR "direct link to PDF" to access the full text of the article.

These are some selected criminal justice online news resources. I found these by searching for keyword combinations such as: "criminal justice" news. What, if any, advantages exist when the journalist specializes in criminal justice?

Evaluate news sources

The I'm VAIN acronym is one way to remember some criteria with which to evaluate news sources.

  • Impartial sources are better than invested sources
  • Multiple sources are better than single sources
  • Sources who verify evidence are better than sources that assert
  • Authoritative/Informed sources are better than uninformed sources
  • Named sources are better than unnamed sources

For further explanation, see the News Evaluation link below.

Also, consider the code of ethics written by the Society of Professional Journalists. Has the journalist made a good faith effort to follow this code of ethics?

Look for more information about the author of the news article. [Google them].

  • Do they regularly cover crime? If so, for how long?
  • Are they a trained journalist?
  • Have they won awards for their writing?
  • Who did the author interview for the story? What are their "credentials"? Does their lived experience count as a credential?


Food for thought