How to cite a news report

by David Becker

Have you ever seen a news report that just happened to relate to the topic of a paper you were writing? Did you really want to cite that report but just didn’t know how? For example, say you were writing a paper on psychological disorders and their treatments throughout history. By sheer coincidence, you saw a report about historical DC scandals that covered the tragic tale of Henry Rathbone, who was sitting next to President Lincoln when he was assassinated. Rathbone was stabbed by John Wilkes Booth as he retreated and suffered psychological damage for the rest of his life because of this traumatic event. “This would be a perfect example for my paper!” you think. Unfortunately, a live news broadcast is not a retrievable source in and of itself. However, if you can track down a retrievable version of that report or another source containing the same information, you can cite it.

Many news organizations, whether they are large 24-hour networks or small local stations, have archives of their live news reports available for viewing on their websites. You would cite such reports as you would cite a YouTube video or any other kind of streaming video. Here’s how to cite the online version of the above-mentioned report:

A historical look back at DC scandals [Video file]. (2013, February 15). Retrieved from http://www.wjla.com/video/2013/02/a-historical-look-back-at-dc-scandals.html

In-text citation: (“A Historical Look,” 2013)

Notice that the title of the video has been moved to the author position. This is because the name of the person who uploaded the video is not specified (see Example 9 on p. 200 of the Publication Manual for more information). Also note that video titles should be italicized.

Hypothetically, let’s say you were not able to find the report you saw on TV. In this situation, it’s best not to worry so much about citing the report itself. You can instead use it as a springboard for further research. There may well be other sources that contain the same information, perhaps even better information, than the report you saw. For example, if you did a little digging for more information about Henry Rathbone, you might find the article cited below that provides much more detail than the TV news report:

Ruane, M. E. (2009, April 5). A tragedy’s second act. Washington Post Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032701576.html

In-text citation: (Ruane, 2009)

Source: APA Style Blog

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