As you reflect on the media coverage of your current topic, be mindful of something called the Information Cycle.
The information cycle is the media coverage of a newsworthy event. Knowing when information gets published in response to an event or issue helps you evaluate your sources; often when something is published soon after an event occurs, the coverage of that event is incomplete or even incorrect.
This image and the video below are from the University of Illinois, and will give you an idea of the kinds of information produced at certain time periods after an event has occured:
Let's work out an example of how the cycle of information works with a recent case:
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary occured on December 14, 2012
The day the event occured, the story was covered by media outlets that could release information quickly: television, internet, and radio
The day after the event occured, the story was picked up by newspapers, which still have a quick turn-around (but slower than the up-to-the-minute coverage that tv, radio, and the internet can provide.
How complete is the information at this point? How accurate would your discussion of this incident be if you only used information published in the first days after the incident?
In the weeks that followed the event, the story was picked up by a number of blogs, and discussed in popular and news magazines
How complete is the information at this point?
A month after the event, the story makes national headlines. What kind of media sources are covering this now?
More importantly, what kind of media or information sources are NOT yet covering this story?
Because this story is still relatively recent, you will more than likely not find books, government reports, or reference material on it because all of those information sources take time to be written and published. Also consider that this story is still evolving, and we are learning more about it every day--if a book WAS published about this, it would be incomplete, and, therefore, a bad resource for our academic work.