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MC 2010 Media Writing: Information Timeline

Information Timeline

In order to find and effectively use information, you need to first understand how it is produced.  This is where the information timeline comes in - it shows the progression of information about an event or topic.  Understanding this timeline will help you better evaluate what sources you should turn to in order to find the best information.  

Day Of: Social Media, Internet, TV

  • Breaking information
  • Can be inaccurate, incomplete, biased, and highly emotional

Week Of: Newspapers 

  • More detailed and factual reporting
  • Quotes from experts, statistics, and/or photographs
  • Written by journalists for general audience (not scholarly)
  • Opinion pieces begin to appear 

Week After: Popular Magazines

  • More detailed reporting including interviews, opinions, and analysis
  • Authors are diverse: professional journalists, commentators, scholars, or experts in the field
  • Factual information BUT can have bias reflecting the publication

Months After: Scholarly Journals

  • Detailed analysis backed by evidence-based research
  • Peer-reviewed which helps ensure accuracy and quality
  • Detailed bibliographies
  • Written by experts and scholars in the field
  • Written for a specific audience (scholars) - can be difficult to understand because of discipline-specific language or jargon

A Year After: Books

  • In-depth coverage often providing comprehensive overviews of topic
  • Detailed bibliographies
  • May have bias as authors' credentials and authority can vary 
  • Can be scholarly (detailed analysis) or popular (general discussion)

Years After: Reference Books

  • Factual information written with little emotion 
  • Authors are scholars and/or experts
  • Broad coverage of a topic 
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