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ATYP: Conspiracy Theories Assignment

The Information Cycle

Courtesy of the University of Illinois

The Day of an Event

Television, The Internet, and Radio

The information:

  • Is primarily provided through up-to-the-minute resources like broadcast news, Internet news sites, and news radio programs.
  • Is quick, generally not detailed, and regularly updated.
  • Explains the who, what, when, and where of an event.
  • Can, on occassion, be inaccurate.
  • Is written by authors who are primarily journalists.
  • Is intended for a general audience.

The Day After an Event


The information:

  • Is longer as newspaper articles begin to apply a chronology to an event and explain why the event occurred.
  • Is more factual and provides a deeper investigation into the immediate context of events.
  • Includes quotes from government officials and experts.
  • May include statistics, photographs, and editorial coverage.
  • Can include local perspectives on a story.
  • Is written by authors who are primarily journalists.
  • Is intended for a general audience.

The Week of or Weeks After an Event

Weekly Popular Magazines and News Magazines

The information:

  • Is contained in long form stories. Weekly magazines begin to discuss the impact of an event on society, culture, and public policy.
  • Includes detailed analysis of events, interviews, as well as opinions and analysis.
  • Offers perspectives on an event from particular groups or geared towards specific audiences.
  • While often factual, information can reflect the editorial bias of a publication.
  • Is written by a range of authors, from professional journalists, to essayists, to commentary by scholars or experts in the field.
  • Is intended for a general audience or specific nonprofessional groups.

Six Months to a Year After an Event and On...

Academic Journals

The information:

  • Includes detailed analysis, empirical research reports, and learned commentary related to the event.
  • Is often theoretical, carefully analyzing the impact of the event on society, culture, and public policy.
  • Is peer-reviewed. This editorial process ensures high credibility and accuracy.
  • Often narrow in topic.
  • Written in a highly technical language.
  • Includes detailed bibliographies.
  • Is authored by scholars, researchers, and professionals, often with Ph.D's.
  • Is intended for other scholars, researchers, professionals, and university students in the field.

A Year to Years After an Event and On...


The information:

  • Provides in-depth coverage of an event, often expanding and detailing themes, subjects, and analysis begun in academic research and published in journals.
  • Often places an event into some sort of historical context.
  • Can provide broad overviews of an event.
  • Can range from scholarly in-depth analysis of a topic, to popular books which provide general discussions and are not as well-researched.
  • Might have a bias or slant, but this dependent on the author.
  • Includes bibliographies.
  • Is often written by scholars, specialists, researchers, and professionals, though credentials of authors vary.
  • Can be intended for a broad audience depending on the book, ranging from scholars to a general audience.

Government Reports

The information:

  • Comes from all levels of government from state, federal, and international governments
  • Includes reports compiled by governmental organizations and summaries of government-funded research
  • Is factual, often including statistical analysis
  • Often focuses on an event in relation to public policy and legislation
  • Authored by governmental panels, organizations, and committees
  • Is intended for all audiences.

Reference Material

The information:

  • Is considered established knowledge.
  • Is published years after an event takes place, in encyclopedias, dictionaries, textbooks, and handbooks.
  • Includes factual information, often in the form of overviews and summaries of an event.
  • May include statistics and bibliographies.
  • Often not as detailed as books or journal articles.
  • Authored by scholars and specialists.
  • Often intended for a general audience, but may be of use to researchers, scholars or professionals

    Courtesy of the University of Illinois