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Guide to the Nature of Information

Information Cycle Graphic

Information Cycle

An event happens (e.g. Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans)

 1. Day of the Event – (TV, radio, and the internet)

Most of the information comes from TV, radio and the internet (especially social media). The information is mostly the basic facts and reactions, and changes as more reports on the disaster are gathered. Information can be incorrect and not verified because of the speed with which it is reaching the public and conflicting sources.

 2. Days after the Event – (Newspaper articles, TV, radio, and the internet)

In the days after the disaster, these media sources continue to cover news of the event. However, now that the event is over, these sources can provide a more in-depth treatment and finalize details of the event.

 3. Weeks after the Event – (Magazine and internet articles)

Articles in popular magazines and internet sites (like news sites or blogs) begin to connect the immediate events to larger issues. More details are coming to light and often these stories contain interviews and other first hand accounts to flesh out the event.

 4. Months after the Event – (Scholarly Journals)

These journal articles are more in-depth than the magazine articles and focus on a specific aspect of the event. The authors have had the time to reflect critically on the event and its ramifications.

 5. Years after the Event – (Books and Reference Materials)

Because books take a longer time to produce, they cannot refer to current events. However, they do reflect on the event, and place its impact within larger issues of their disciplines. The event will also be included in reference materials, like encyclopedias and textbooks, placing the event securely into the historic record.

Information Formats

Format Type of Information
Newspaper/Popular Magazine Current events, basic information for general audiences
Scholarly Journal Article Presents original research and comments on current research trends, information for researchers and scholars
Books Overviews of a field or topic, analyze research and provides context
Reference Books see below
Encyclopedia General or broad information for general audiences, may be field specific or multidisciplinary
Dictionaries Defines terms and their usages, can be discipline/subject specific
Handbooks Guide to a specific subject or discipline, compresses a large amount of information into a short text
Almanac/Yearbooks Reviews events or information from a specific year, can be general or specific
Atlases/Gazeteers Provides geographical information, defines/locates places and place names
Indexes/Bibliographies (Print or Electronic Lists citations from books or articles published, may contain annotations