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Journalism - Strategic Communication

Tips, techniques & links to help you find answers for your research papers & projects

Searching for Company Information

If a company is:

  • Publicly traded, it is required to file disclosure documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  These documents are publicly available at the SEC- EDGAR site or through several online business databases (Mergent Online, Factiva, etc).
  • Public, but part of a conglomerate or holding company, the SEC documents will be filed by the holding company with less information available about subsidiaries or business segments.  Try Mergent Online or Factiva.
  • Private now, but had been public, the original disclosure documents filed as a public company should still be available.  Try Mergent Online.
  • Private it is under no obligation to file disclosure documents with the SEC, so it's financial information may be difficult to find.  Try searching the news and press releases in Factiva, Business Source Premier, ABI/Inform.
  • Private and part of a holding company, it becomes more difficult to find information about it.  This is when any information gleened from news, press releases, interviews, etc. becomes important.   Try searching Factiva, Business Source Premier, ABI/Inform.
  • A franchise, you may be able to obtain a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), usually only available to qualified potential franchisees.
  • A nonprofit, with 501(c)(3) status is required to file Form 990, Return of Organizations Exempt from Income Tax, with the IRS. The form includes financial statements and background information on the nonprofit, including salaries of key employees (i.e. director, head, officers). Try searching (currently the only freely available full-text searchable database of full digitized nonprofit financials), The Foundation Center provides a funder free search.  (Find funder by name, state, or zip and drill down to the 990 to find funding recipients.), The GuideStar National Database of Nonprofit Organizations  (free, but requires registration), Search Google using 990 and the name of the nonprofit.

Company and Industry Resources from Databases

  • Bloomberg - the Bloomberg terminal is in the northwest corner of the journalism library's main floor.  It is a source of in-depth business information and especially helpful determining suppliers, customers and competitors.