article on Sources
(portal for journalists and writers)
is an information portal for journalists, freelance writers, editors,
authors, and researchers, focusing especially on human sources:
experts and spokespersons who are prepared to answer reporters'
questions or make themselves available for on-air interviews.
website www.sources.com is built around a controlled-vocabulary
subject index comprising more than 20,000 topics. This subject index
is underpinned by an 'Intelligent Search' system which helps reporters
focus their searches by suggesting additional subjects related to
their search terms. For example, a search for "cancer"
will suggest terms such as "chemotherapy", "melanoma",
"oncology", "radiation therapy", "tobacco
diseases" and "tumours", and as well as topics that
actually contain the word "cancer".
Each topic reference
links in turn to experts and spokespersons on that topic, with profiles
describing their expertise and where relevant their approach to
the issue, along with their phone numbers and other contact information.
Sources includes listings for universities and research
institutes, non-profit associations and NGOs, government and public
sector bodies, businesses, and individuals including academics,
public speakers, and consultants.
index and the search menus are being translated into French, Spanish,
and German to make Sources more of an international resource.
Based in Canada,
Sources was founded in 1977 as a print directory
for reporters, editors, and story producers. It was first published
as a supplement to Content magazine, a influential and controversial
magazine of journalism criticism. Content, founded by Dick
MacDonald in 1970 and published by Barrie Zwicker after MacDonald's
death in 1974, frequently took journalists to task for always relying
on the same narrow range of sources representing the same conventional
points of view for their stories. Zwicker and MacDonald argued in
Content and in their book "The News: Inside the Canadian
Media"  that there was a "terrible sameness" in
the media's coverage of many important issues, and a shutting out
of other, potentially valuable, perspectives and sources of information.
to do something about the problem, and in the Summer of 1977, Content
published its first directory issue, called Sources.
Billed as "A Directory of Contacts for Editors and Reporters
in Canada", Sources listed "information
officers, public relations officers, media relations and public
affairs people, and other contacts for groups, associations, federations,
unions, societies, institutions, foundations, industries and companies
and federal, provincial and municipal ministries, departments, agencies
and boards." 
rationale behind Sources, Zwicker said that "It's
a cliché that every story has two sides. An untrue cliché.
Most have several. The reporter's challenge is digging out all sides.
Sources can help." From the beginning, Zwicker
saw Sources as a public service as well as a tool
for journalists. He said that Sources should "to
help promote a system of information fairness. Communications resources
are equivalent to other basic needs - shelter, food, health care,
for example. Everyone should have reasonable access to all."
Therefore, he said "we attempt to provide true diversity: access
to people in organizations large and small, for-profit and not-for-profit,
from low-tech to high-tech, long-established to just-launched."
users that "within Sources you will find both
mainstream and alternative information. Some may consider alternative
as off to one side, not quite up to par, more or less second hand.
Here at Sources 'alternative' is considered differently,
considered as authentic and substantial, even if normally less accessible.
The surprises, the jarring notes, the flashes of insight, the 'odd
takes,' the pearls of wisdom, the cries de coeur, the avant garde,
tomorrow's news, the prophesies, the unfiltered, the exciting, the
elsewhere-squelched, the memorable, the eccentric, the thought-out-at-length,
the unmentionable in polite company, the outrageous, the uncensored
... these are what 'alternative' media offer. So far as we can,
we will include the alternative with Sources. Sources'
driving philosophy is flat-out informational democracy enabled by
user-friendly technology. The assumption is that there is a significant
fraction of Canadians who want to use and benefit from such an information
resource. The assumption is that a significant fraction of Canadians
want to expand their search for solutions, and deepen their understandings,
rather than chant conventional wisdoms (however freshly minted)
to each other."
After a few
years, Sources become so big that it could no longer
fit into Content (the print directory eventually grew to
more than 500 pages), and in 1981 it became an independent publication.
Content itself eventually folded, but Zwicker continued to
devote a substantial editorial section in Sources
to coverage of topics of interest to journalists, ranging from practical
topics such as grammar, style, fact-checking, photojournalism, copyright,
fees for freelancers, and self-publishing, to feature articles on
the state of journalism and the media, to book reviews. From the
early 1990s on Sources began to feature articles about
online research, notably the regular feature 'Dean's Digital World'
by informatics expert Dean Tudor.
itself went on the Internet in 1995 and has been expanding its online
portal ever since. It continues to publish a print edition of the
directory, primarily for the benefit of freelancers who use it as
a source of story ideas, but is now primarily a Web-based resource.
website includes not on the Sources directory itself,
but a separate government directory, Parliamentary Names & Numbers;
a directory of the media, Media Names & Numbers; and
The Sources HotLink (www.hotlink.ca), which features articles
about media relations and public relations. Also on the site is
Fame and Fortune, a directory of awards, prizes, and scholarships
available to writers and journalists, and a portal linked into the
online archive of Connexions Information Sharing Services, a library
of documents related to alternatives and social justice.
The site also
houses Sources Select Resources, a large library of articles
and reviews about journalism and the media, spanning a period of
more than 30 years.
While much of
the editorial content has focused on the nitty-gritty of writing,
editing and research, Sources has also regularly published
articles that have sparked controversy on topics such as censorship
and media bias. One campaign waged by Zwicker and others challenged
the ethics of journalists accepting free gifts from the people they
are supposed to cover. This campaign eventually led Canadian managing
editors to agree among themselves that their newspapers would not
accept free tickets from travel agencies, resorts, and hotels.
A series of
articles by Zwicker on "War, Peace, and the Media"
(later collected and published as a booklet) provoked a furore from
readers upset by its criticisms of how the media cover U.S. foreign
policy. As Zwicker put it in a publisher's letter in the next issue,
the "reaction ranged from high praise to angry denunciation."
The Toronto Sun newspaper devoted three stories to the series. Columnist
Claire Hoy was left "trembling with rage ", editor Peter
Worthington felt "outraged" and a lead editorial denounced
articles included one by Wendy Cukier on the public relations battle
surrounding proposed gun control legislation, which drew the ire
of the gun lobby. Ulli Diemer, who succeeded Zwicker as publisher
in 1999, came under attack from the Fraser Institute for his article
"Ten Health Care Myths: Understanding Canada's Medicare Debate",
in which he argued that opponents of public health care were spreading
mis-information designed to mislead and frighten the public.
In keeping with
its mandate of encouraging a wide diversity of points of view in
the media, Sources has added extra resources over time to help organizations
and individuals get heard. These include a calendar of events open
to the media  and a news release service which Sources members
can use to distribute their statements and communiques via online
posting and RSS. The releases are also subject indexed and integrated
into the overall search structure for information on the Sources
Dick; Zwicker, Barrie. The News: Inside the Canadian Media. Deneau.
1982. ISBN 0888790538
A Directory of Contacts for Editors and Reporters in Canada. Content.
1977. ISSN: 0045-835X
50. 2002. ISSN: 1198-7171X. ISBN: 0-920299-55-5
,  
Sources 36. 1995. ISSN: 1198-7871X. ISBN: 0-920299-24-5
 Dean's Digital
World - http://www.sources.com/SSR/DeansDigital.htm
Select Resources - http://www.sources.com/SSR.htm
Barrie. War, Peace and the Media. Sources. 1983, 1985
Wendy. "Anatomy of the Gun Control Debate". Sources. 1996
Ulli. 'Ten Health Care Myths: Understanding Canada's Medicare Debate'.
Sources. 1995. - http://www.diemer.ca/Docs/Diemer-TenHealthCareMyths.htm
Calendar - http://calendar.sources.com
Secrets of the Super Net Searchers: The Reflections, Revelations,
and Hard-won Wisdom of 35 of the World's Top Internet Researchers.
Pemberton Press. 1996. ISBN 0-910965-22-6
The Skeptical Business Searcher: The Information Advisor's Guide
to Evaluating Web Data, Sites and Sources. Information Today, 2004.
Media Relations. Briston House. 2003. ISBN 1-894921-00-3
Wray. In the News The Practice of Media Relations in Canada. University
of Alberta Press, 2002. ISBN 0-88864-382-9
Anne; Mayne, Robert S. The Newsmongers: How The Media Distort the
Political News. 1987. McClelland & Stewart
G.; Shewchuk, Murphy (eds.) The Canadian Writers' Guide. 13th Edition.
Canadian Authors Association. Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2003. ISBN
A.; Gruneau, Richard. The Missing News: Filters and Blind Spots
in Canada's Press. Newswatch Canada. Canadian Centre for Policy
Alternatives & Garamond Press, 2000
A. News and Dissent: The Press and The Politics of Peace in Canada.
A.; Zhao, Yuezhi. Sustaining Democracy? Journalism and the Politics
of Objectivity. Garamond Press. 1998. ISBN 1-55193-013-7
The Gulf Within: Canadian Arabs, Racism, & The Gulf War. James
Zwicker, Barrie. The News: Inside the Canadian Media. Deneau. 1982.
The Oxford Guide to Library Research. Oxford University Press. 1998.
Hackett, Robert; Winter, James; Gutstein, Donald; Gruneau, Richard
(eds.) Blindspots in the News? Project Censored Canada Yearbook.
Project Censored Canada. 1995.
Stilborne, Linda; McAdams, Melinda; Hyatt, Laurel. The Internet
Handbook for Writers, Researchers, and Journalists. Trifolium Books.
1997, 2002. ISBN 1-895579-17-1
Cooper, Barry Cooper. Hidden Agendas: How Journalists Influence
University of British Columbia Press. 2003. ISBN: 00774810203
Yesterday's News: Why Canada's Daily Newspapers are Failing Us.
Fernwood Publishing, 1999
Getting the Goods: Information in B.C.: How to Find It, How to Use
It. New Star Books, 1990
Inventing Tax Rage: Misinformation in the National Post. Fernwood
2004. ISBN 1-55266-146-6
C.; Hildebrandt, Kai (eds.) Canadian Newspaper Ownership in the
Era of Convergence: Rediscovering Social Responsibility. University
of Alberta Press. 2005, ISBN 0-88864-439-6
Finding Answers: Approaches to Gathering Information. McClelland
& Stewart Inc., Toronto. 1993.
J.A. The Invention of Journalism Ethics: The Path to Objectivity
and Beyond. McGill-Queen's University Press. 2004. ISBN 0-7735-2810-5
Media Think. Black Rose Books. 2002. ISBN 1-55164-054-6
War, Peace and the Media. Sources. 1983, 1985
Sources - www.sources.com
Sources Select Resources - www.sources.com/SSR.htm
Sources Select News - www.sources.com/News.htm
Sources Calendar - http://calendar.sources.com
Fame & Fortune - www.sources.com/Fandf/Index.htm
The Sources HotLink - www.hotlink.ca
Connexions Information Sharing Services - www.connexions.org
Wikipedia November 18, 2008
Sources, 812A Bloor Street West, Suite 201, Toronto, ON M6G 1L9.
Phone: (416) 964-7799 FAX: (416) 964-8763
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