Information cycle

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The information cycle is a model of the processing of information by news media and researchers, in which information goes through various stages of reporting and publication. In the cycle model, information about an event starts out as a news story, presented on the Internet, television, radio, newspapers; then magazines; then it moves on to scholarly research published in academic journals, conferences, or books; and finally, if the information is considered important enough, it ends in reference works such as handbooks and encyclopedias.[1] The model is commonly taught in library education.[2][3] Information flow in this model can be thought of as a cycle because, conceptually, the published information might spark new ideas which will pass through similar stages.[2]

As information passes through the various stages, its content and presentation changes. The initial news coverage may take place as events unfold, and offers only basic information in terms of "who, what, where, when". News magazines will offer more background information, adding the fifth W, "why", especially in less frequently appearing specialized periodicals. After a period of typically months, scholars may use the information for their studies; they are more likely than journalists to be experts in the field to which the information pertains, and will write detailed studies that take historical context and long-term meaning into account. Finally, after a few years, books may appear about the initial events.

The idea of an information cycle (and in fact the very term) can be problematic, since it evokes the notion of information "naturally" flowing from the source to its consumer, without regard for the choices made along the way by the authors/editors involved.[3]


  1. ^ "The Information Cycle". University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Burkhardt, Joanna M.; MacDonald, Mary C.; Rathemacher, Andrée J. (2010). Teaching Information Literacy: 50 Standards-based Exercises for College Students. American Library Association. pp. 33–34. 
  3. ^ a b Franks, Sarah (2010). "Grand Narratives and the Information Cycle in the Library". In Accardi, Maria T.; Drabinski, Emily; Kumbier, Alana. Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods. Library Juice Press. pp. 43–53. 

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