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Journalism and the Fourth Estate for your next research paper

In a course on mass communication you’re likely to cover topics such as broadcast journalism, news media and investigative journalism. Journalism is also known as the fourth branch of government, or the Fourth Estate, because it plays such an important role in our democracy. In order for the public to make decisions when voting, they must be well informed on the issues.

Learn more about the history of journalism. (Credit: Wannabe Reporter)

Learn more about the history of journalism. (Credit: Wannabe Reporter)

The news media wields great power in its ability to shape public opinion. For this and many other reasons, the history of journalism would make for an interesting research paper topic. Read more

Term paper: Media coverage of mental illness

For your next term paper, consider writing about the often harmful way the media cover mental illness. The media are often too quick to make broad generalizations, stigmatize mentally ill people and link violence with depression. Mental illnesses are complex and affect people in various ways, and the media should reflect this when reporting.

Discuss how mental illness is seen through media coverage. (Credit: dilw.ie)

Discuss how mental illness is seen through media coverage. (Credit: dilw.ie)

For good research paper topics for your classes on psychology, mental illness or print or broadcast journalism, you can write about the ways the media covers mental illness. Read more

How to research ethics in communication (Hint: with integrity)

Social and ethical issues in journalism and other communications, such as public relations, business communications and information science, are good research paper topics for your ethics term paper.

Rupert Murdoch Getting Schooled In Journalism Ethics. (Credit: Rob Tornoe)

Rupert Murdoch Getting Schooled In Journalism Ethics. (Credit: Rob Tornoe)

Here are some debates and issues of ethics in journalism you can discuss and a list of databases and resources for more research. Read more

What is Wikileaks: The Fifth Estate reveals impact of citizen journalism

A WikiLeaks protester in support of Free Speech.

A WikiLeaks protester in support of Free Speech.

If you’ve been following the recent news stories about Wikileaks, its founder Julian Assange and other stories about leaks and citizen journalism, then you’ll be interested in the new film, The Fifth Estate. Directed by Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2) and starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness), the film follows events surrounding the largest exposure of government secrets in history.

Wikileaks history

By now everyone knows the role that Julian Assange has played in developing the web site Wikileaks. What they may not know is that he was not alone in developing the concept of a site that would assist whistle-blowers in spreading information about corporate crimes and government secrets. Read more

A first look at communication theory and journalism reference sites

A first look at communication theory or a topic such as journalism is just the beginning when doing research. The next step is to narrow your choice of topic to an area of focus. Reference sites on the Web will help you to review the many possibilities for your research and then delve deep into the subject you choose. Read more

Who do you trust?

Which online resources are safe to use?

Search expert Barbara G. Friedman emphasizes the importance of knowing how to evaluate Web site reliability in her book Web Search Savvy: Strategies and Shortcuts for Online Research (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005, 158). In Credibility at a Glance, she notes that one “quick measure of a Web site’s credibility is to look at the domain.”

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Get Real

“Working with primary sources is like detective work – leads must be followed, motives evaluated and stories matched for consistency,” says Leslie F. Stebbins. In the book Student Guide to Research in the Digital Age: How to Locate and Evaluate Information Sources (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006), 79, Stebbins offers some strategies you can use to analyze primary sources. Read more