Ideas to Organize Newspaper Articles

Written by john zaremba
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People have lots of reasons for keeping newspaper articles. Some are personal: They might keep stories written about themselves, their friends, their family members or other people they know. Other reasons are historical: They might wish to chronicle the progress of a public-works project or the political history of a particular public official. And others are recreational: They might want to collect every bit of information possible about their favourite baseball team's star centrefielder. Whatever the reason for collecting newspaper articles, organising them in a clear and logical way puts them at easy access for anyone who wants to read them.

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Preserve The Clippings

No matter what kind of articles you're collecting, or for what reason, one thing is constant in all newspaper collections: Newsprint ages quickly. It turns yellow within a few days, and over the months and years it dries out and flakes off. Before you sort your newspaper articles, consider ways to preserve them. Lamination is a popular method, as is using a photo album with pages that have protective plastic sheets. You also can make photocopies of your articles or have them committed to microfilm or CD.

If you read newspapers online, highlight the text of any article you wish to save, (along with photos and headline) then copy and paste it into a word-processor document.

Personal Scrapbook

If you've collected lots of articles having to do with yourself, sort them by topic, and organise them chronologically. For example, keep stories and pictures of your public recognition (awards, commendations) separate from coverage of your business, involvement in local sports or letters to the editor. Once you have them separated by category, put them in chronological order. This will be easiest if you still have the folio lines--the part of the page that lists the name of the publication and the date.

Family Album

Some families have standout school athletes or community leaders who appear in the newspaper often. They can preserve these stories, pictures and box scores for posterity by dedicating a few pages of the family album to each member's successes and exploits.

Mini-Morgue

Emulate the professionals. Although many newspaper libraries have gone completely digital, some still maintain morgues, or collections of stories in hard-copy form and on microfilm. Newspaper librarians go through each edition and sort articles by topic, then by subtopic. For example, a newspaper librarian will sort articles about a particular town, then organise them into narrower topics--local government, local schools, police, fire, neighbourhood, organisations and so on.

Use this approach for your own collection, and to suit your own interests. If you're a follower of public policy or a particular official, for example, clip articles about that subject, and organise them into smaller categories. These might include legislation topics, political promotions and appointments, in-depth interviews, public appearances and campaigns.

The same goes for sports teams: Clip all the stories having to do with that team, and sort them however you like--by season, by player or even by position (especially if your team has had particular strengths or weaknesses in one area.) Over time, your newspaper collection could prove a valuable resource for someone wishing to research a particular team or player.

If your collection has lots of stories about major world events (the moon landing, the Kennedy assassinations, the Challenger explosion, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, etc.) you can devote a special part of your collection accordingly. Newspapers do this commonly; they frame their front pages from these days and post them in the newsroom.

By Author Or Simple Category

Some newspapers have columnists with signature styles and large followings. Organising your collection by favoured writers is another way to sort your clips.

If you collect articles simply because you find them interesting, amusing or useful, sort them into broad categories: health, finance, science, crime, parenting, gardening, cooking and so on. With cooking articles, consider moving recipes and other helpful cooking tips into your cookbook.

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