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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Speech 113: Background Info

Resources for students taking Speech Communication 113

Background Information on Your Topic

Once you have an idea of the topic you'd like to explore, gather some background information. Getting a better understanding of the topic and its complexity will make it easier for you to pick the particular aspect that you want to look closely at.

Current Issues: Web Resources

As you are gathering information on your topic, you might also consider the following sites:

ProCon.org presents contrasting views on controversial issues. Discussion of each topic is divided into two columns: pro and con. Evidence (data, reports, studies) is provided for each argument. Each section features a list of additional sources.

Public Agenda is another site where you will find overviews of current issues. Each Issue Guide highlights the key aspects of a topic, and Research Studies explore specific aspects of an issue in detail.

FactCheck.org reports whether or not the information conveyed by politicans, TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases is factually accurate. Although FactCheck.org focuses on issues currently in the news, you can browse its archives back to 2003.

Times Topics is a section of The New York Times web site. It is a selection of pages that bring together all the news, reference and archival information, photos, graphics, audio and video files that have been published on a given topic. To find information on an issue that interests you, browse the alphabetical list of topics.

Current Issues: Library Resources

 Search for your topic in these online library databases:

Gale Virtual Reference Library is a great alternative to Wikipedia. This online collection of more than 250 specialized encyclopedias, dictionaries, biographical directories, and other reference books in all disciplines will provide you with credible background information on your topic.

CQ Researcher Plus Archive  is  a collection of in-depth reports on news topics and social issues. Each report includes an overview, a historical timeline, a section on current situation, and a list of references. Recently covered topics include Prisoner Reentry, Animal Rights, and Truth Commissions.

opposing viewpoints Opposing Viewpoints in Context  is a one-stop source for information on current social issues. It offers access to pro/con viewpoint articles, topic overviews, statistics, primary documents, links to websites, full-text magazine, newspaper, and scholarly articles.