Pre-searching your topic means looking for background information to help form your understanding of your topic. Pre-searching can introduce you to relevant vocabulary, people, places, events, and ideas related to your topic--all of which might inform your research question and help you build a list of terms to search once you actually start searching for resources that support your research question.
Some good places to start gathering background information are Wikipedia and Google, as well as magazines. MasterFile Premier provides access to thousands of magazines and journals, among other resources that might be helpful when you are just getting started. Here is a list of magazines that might be good places for you to begin looking:
New York Times Magazine
Saturday Evening Post
Other resources providing good background:
GVRL is a collection of online books that you can search all at once. There books here are on a wide range of topics, not just communication topics. This is useful for getting background information on historical events or topics that may have a non-communication dimension, such as health issues or political issues.
explores hot topics in the news. Every 12,000 word report is written by an experienced journalist and features comments from experts, lawmakers and citizens on all sides of a given issue.
Database of articles on topical & social issues, plus video, newspaper, and images.
Contains articles from over 1,100 magazines, 150 newspapers, 400 pamphlets, 1,500 popular biographies, 800 book reviews and 15,000 public opinion polls.