Primary sources – key definitions

primary source word cloud 2

What it really means

Source: A person, publication or object that gives information.

Primary: Not made or coming from something else – original.

Firsthand: Coming directly from the original source.

Secondary: Coming from or created using an original source.

Secondhand: Not original; taken from someone or something else.

Examples of primary sources

Audio – oral histories or memoirs, interviews, music

Images – photographs, videos, film, fine art

Objects – clothing, tools, pottery, gravestones, inventions, weapons, memorabilia

Statistics – census data, population statistics, weather records

Text – letters, diaries, original documents, legal agreements, treaties, maps, laws, advertisements, recipes, genealogical information, sermons/lectures.

How are primary and secondary sources different?

Primary sources are original records created by firsthand witnesses of an event.

Secondary sources are documents, texts, images and objects about an event created by someone who uses primary sources for their information.

Why are primary sources important in the news?

Primary sources are important in the news because mass media has a huge audience reach and the photos, interviews, movies, statistics and weather records used provide the original data on which news stories are based.

A credible news source needs reliable primary sources to provide fact-based news programmes, newspapers, magazines and radio shows.

 

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