If you are checking a newspaper citation dating from past years, it is unlikely that you will be reviewing a print source. Due to the fragile nature of newspapers, most libraries retain microform collections of newspapers. BC Law Library does not collect national or regional newspapers on microfilm (our microforms collection includes bar journals, session laws, court briefs and congressional documents as examples.)
Microform refers to either microfilm, a film reel containing photographic images of actual newspaper pages, or microfiche, a single film card on which multiple newspaper page images are stored. Libraries own special equipment to allow users to print or download pages from microform documents.
The O'Neill Library at Boston College (main campus) holds backfiles of major newspapers on microfilm and has equipment to reproduce pages from microfilm.
Beginning in Fall 2014, the BC Law journals have adopted a new approach to retrieving hardcopy newspaper articles. The preference will move away from the Bluebook's preference for print citations. Staff will provide citations to electronic cites for newspapers and foreign sources. The adoption of Perma by the BC Law reviews will help ensure long-term access to these sources.
Need to locate a newspaper article? Check the Boston College Libraries Catalog, using the title of the newspaper as your search term. If the newspaper is owned by Boston College libraries, or if we have access to the newspaper through an electronic source, you will be able to locate this information using the Catalog. Also, some newspaper databases may contain the full-text of articles or simply abstracts. This Guide will help you to determine which newspaper databases are most helpful - see the page here for Electronic and PDF Versions of Newspaper Articles.
Many students are confused about citing newspapers due to the issue of print vs. electronic text of the newspaper article. Consult Bluebook Rule 16.6(f) for guidance:
"Online newspapers are often used in place of print newspapers. Because the title, content, and publication date online may be different from the print version, the two sources should not be treated interchangeably unless the online source is an exact copy of the original as dictated by Rule 18.2.1(a). If an article is only available online, cite to it directly in accordance with rule 18.2.2; pagination can be included if available but is not necessary."
The Bluebook also discusses newspaper citations in Rule 16.6, 16.8, and 18.2.2.
Citing to newspaper articles by using a parallel cite to a commercial electronic database
The Bluebook Rule 18.3.4 addresses the issue of sources available in two formats: print and electronic. The rule suggests that authors include a parallel citation to a commercial database to facilitate access. The example given shows a unique document number in Westlaw for a San Antonio Express-News article. These unique document identifiers will appear at the top of the Westlaw document.
Some newspapers publish different editions of the paper, meaning there may be a national or regional edition. Also, some newspapers have published late editions or evening editions in past years. These factors may make it unclear which edition the author is citing, and often make an article difficult to cite properly. Please consult with a reference librarian if you have problems with these issues.
Electronic access to backfiles of newspapers is explained in this Guide. While national and regional newspaper backfiles are readily available in electronic format, these backfiles may not extend to dates earlier than the 1980's. The New York Times is an exception since it has digitized its entire backfile. Local newspaper backfiles may be very difficult to locate and may only be held in that community's public library in microformat. It is very difficult to retrieve early local newspapers for cite checking; some exceptions are noted in the page devoted to Local and Regional Newspapers in this Guide.
While newspapers may be available online, these files do not always contain PDF images of the actual newspaper. Many cite-checking students anticipate that the newspaper file will be the digitized issues or scanned images of newspaper pages and this is not always the case. This Guide indicates which databases available to the BC Law community contain the pdf images of articles.