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InfoGuides | Pepperdine Libraries

FYS: Communicating in an Age of Contention (Walker): News & Think Tanks

The guide has information that will help you conduct research for this course

Think Tanks

"Think Tanks are policy-oriented research organizations that provide expertise to government."

 --- Critchlow, Donald T. "Think Tanks." Dictionary of American History, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, 3rd ed., vol. 8, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003, pp. 117-118. Gale Virtual Reference Library,

"Think tank: The term denotes a group of people who are paid to do nothing but read, discuss, think, and write, usually to address and redress a matter of vital importance to humanity...

The institutions on this list make up the 50 most influential think tanks in the United States. What makes a think tank influential? ...Our approach in ranking think tanks takes a different tack..." --The Best Schools 

Political sampling from the above list:

News

Editorial: an article in a newspaper presenting the opinion of the editor(s) so it does not receive a byline because it represents the opinion of the newspaper.

  • Purpose: To give opinions on current issues and events, written by the editorial board.
  • How to find editorials in library databases: use the advanced search and look for "Editorial" as a document or article type limit or look for the limit after doing a search.

Op-ed: (or “opposite editorial”) are articles devoted to commentary, feature articles, and opinions. Authors are not officially affiliated with the newspaper and can range from state legislators to local business owners and interested local citizens. Op-eds must be approved by the editorial page or opinion page editor and will also be cleared by a copy editor.

  • Purpose: To discuss and provide arguments on issues of relevance to the readers of the newspaper, written by named authors not associated with the newspaper's editorial board.
  • How to Find: In online databases, search for keywords related to the topic and look for document type limit: Commentary.

Letter to the Editor: usually written in direct response to an article, editorial, op-ed, or column that the paper has printed. They can also be a reaction to or notification of a newsworthy event. They are printed on the editorial page.

  • Purpose: To provide reactions from readers to the content of the newspaper.
  • How to find: In online databases, search for keywords related to the topic and look for document type limit: Letters.

Column: A single article containing the author’s opinion

 

News Story:  a news report of any length, usually presented in a straightforward style and without editorial comment. Most often written in the inverted pyramid style, with summary lead.

 

Featured Story: a story that is written to inform, but also to entertain. A feature article builds upon the interests of the audience and can be written more creatively than traditional inverted pyramid formatting. These stories focus on people and what they like to do, where they live, what they eat, what entertains them; the sky's the limit as long as it interests the audience.

 

News Analysis: More and more frequently, you’ll see newspapers such as The New York Times printing pieces that are not quite news articles, not quite editorials and not quite features. They go into more depth than a straight news article, described above, typically would, offering an analysis of events and how it might affect the surrounding area. Pieces like this require a great deal of knowledge about the event, the area in which it takes place and the people involved, and thus are usually written by more experienced reporters who specialize in covering certain areas or topics.


Press Release: written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy. Typically, they are sent to the assignment editors.