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Newspapers and News Media


This guide should help you navigate the constantly changing, very confusing world of newspapers and newspaper content. A few things first:

  'Current' content and 'historical' (or archival) content will almost certainly be provided through multiple, different links.

  Content may be provided as reformatted text or as an image of the original print (BU Libraries subscribes to both kinds).

  Some archival content is only available through microfilm , arranged by date.

  Often only partial coverage is available for a given newspaper title.

  Newspapers change their names! Often. If you're having trouble tracking down a cited newspaper, a librarian can certainly help.

Digital archives of individual newspaper titles are currently being developed and marketed by a few companies (ProQuest being a major leader), but these archives are extraordinarily expensive. The historical archives to which we currently subscribe are listed under Databases (Single titles & collections).

Newspaper FAQ

>> Does the library have a current online subscription to the New York Times?

Many newspaper publishers are heavily promoting individual subscriptions and limiting institutional access. As a result, we unfortunately do not have a way to provide a daily digital subscription to the New York Times for the BU community.

>> Aren't all newspapers available now in digital format?

Many, many newspapers have not yet been digitized, and are available only in the town library publishing the newspaper.

>> Why doesn't the library have more digital newspaper collections?

Digital archives of newspapers are quite expensive, and can cost as much as $40,000 for a single title. We are adding archives as funds become available.

>> If my newspaper isn't available in digital format, how do I get it?

Before the rush to digitize, many newspaper archives and collections were purchased in microfilm. We may have the newspaper you need in a non-searchable format; or the contents may be searchable online, but as text-only (rather than a digital image.)
Try searching BU WorldCat Local by newspaper title to see if any library has an archive - we may be able to borrow a microfilm reel for you.

>> I need access to Japanese newspapers, but I don't read Japanese. Where are the translated newspapers?

Newspapers in languages other than English are usually not available in translation.

>> The database I'm using doesn't have the particular article I'm seeking, but it seems to cover the newspaper. What am I doing wrong?

Many newspaper databases allow selected access and searching by keyword or subject over multiple sources. They may provide news as re-formatted content; may not provide all articles in an issue, or all years of a single newspaper; or may not consistently provide access to the same titles from year-to-year. If you can’t find a particular article, please talk to reference librarians.

>> I found my article in the New York Times Historical database, but the accompanying photo is missing. Why?

The Tasini decision of 2001 – New York Times vs Tasini – requires that newspapers selling digital rights to published content in databases must have explicit permission of the contributing freelance writers or photographers, or compensate them for using the material. Many newspapers took the expedient course of removing material for which they had no explicit permission – hence, the gaps. However, the decision did not apply to microfilm, the archival medium of choice before digital access became prevalent. Since we have many major newspapers in microfilm, you may well be able to retrieve the missing image. Ask us!

  In the basement of Mugar you will find Microfilm readers, which can now make free digital copies in multiple formats. If you chose, you can also make print copies for a small charge.

While it is true that many online digital historical archives are available by subscription only, you may not be aware that

  •  Residents of Massachusetts may obtain an eCard from the Boston Public Library, giving you access to a number of expensive - and extensive - newspaper databases (see Newspapers @ BPL).
  • Free newspaper archives include Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers 1836-1922, and Google News Archives, as well as many state-specific and international archives around the world.
  • Many large newspapers ( Boston Herald , New York Times Washington Post) have an archives page that allows you to search for content. To get full-text you can pay a fee per article OR use the microfilm archives at universities or large public libraries (such as the BPL), in person. All you need is the newspaper name, the headline, and the date (although knowing the page would save time.) Our microfilm readers will make free digital copies for download - your only investment is time (and maybe a flash drive for all those articles you'll find!)