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The information cycle

Same day: Media outlets

It is the morning of the September 11, 2001. CNN broadcasts news in the regular morning zone, when the sudden and unexpected news of a calamity interrupt the usual flow. CNN announced that based on unconfirmed reports a plane crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

Watch this video to see how CNN covered the first September 11 attack a few minutes after the event.

Information dissemination

The day of the breaking news, the information started flowing with live video coverage and live reports on the television and radio news. Broadcasters were reporting that something devastating happened but could not explain what caused the crash of the plane. Reporters went at the scene talked with civilians that eye witnessed the crash, but no one was sure about why this happened. Other online news outlets across the world also developed and produced stories, often with distorted facts as they began to emerge in the confusion of the aftermath. Information was produced fast and might prove to be inaccurate as new details emerged.

Did you know?

At that time, social media websites like Facebook or Twitter had not been developed yet. Based on Pew Research Center reports, 81% of Americans received the news about the September 11 attacks from media outlets. About 11% of Americans got most of their information from radio and only 3% of Americans say they got most of their information about the attacks and the aftermath from the Internet.

Media outlet attributes

Check the table that follows with the media outlets attributes.

 Attributes   Hints
Name of source
Names of media outlets are usually broad and do not target a particular topic. They usually include the country of origin like BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) or include the word news like CNN (Cable News Network).
Author of information
Journalists primarily produce the information for television, radio and internet news. The general public may also become the author of news on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.
Date of information
Current, covering what is happening now or happened a few minutes or hours before. It is regularly updated as more information becomes available.
Length of information
The information appears in brief and generally not in many details as the time of newscasts usually ranges from 5 minutes to 1 hour.
Language used
Headlines of newscasts often use very short words to make an impact. In general, the language used in television, radio and social media websites tries to cause great public interest and excitement.
Subject focus
Newscasts typically report news on a wide variety of topics from business and politics to technology, sports, food, travel, health and arts.
Additional elements
Newscasts make extensive use of videos, interviews, live reports but are often interrupted by commercial spots.
Layout & arrangement
Newscasts present the important news first. They divide news into those having local and international interest or under different topics.
Purpose & audience

The purpose of media outlets is to provide up-to-date information and breaking news stories explaining the who, what, when, and where of an event. They may also offer chronology of events, opinions from experts and/or government officials, statistics and local perspectives. They can be state or private. They intend to inform the general public.