A news cycle is defined as the amount of time that passes between the release of one edition of a news outlet and the follow up edition. The most common example of a news cycle would be the daily newspaper. Released early in the morning of one day, the next edition does not appear until roughly twenty-four hours later. That one-day period between the daily edition constitutes a news cycle. Originally associated with newspapers, the term is applied today in all forms of news distribution.
Newspapers are not the only form of print news media with a cycle. A number of magazines devoted to high profile news events operate with a news cycle of one week. Each new edition features news and events that have occurred in the seven days since the last publication. Along with hard news, there are a number of weekly publications that specialize in entertainment news, providing a steady flow of information about celebrities to a curious public.
At one time, TV news was built around a news cycle that was usually composed of a few hours between news broadcasts. Generally, early morning news programs that ranged from fifteen to thirty minutes allowed people to catch up on world events before leaving for work. A second news report would be presented around the middle of the day, and a third offering of news would occur around the dinner hour.
The advent of cable television significantly altered the cycle for many broadcast stations, since networks devoted exclusively to news effectively make it possible to access the latest world developments any time of the day or night. In a number of cases, the mid-day new broadcast has been discontinued. A number of markets rely strictly on broadcast network news for the early morning. Local news often is relegated to the dinner hour and a late night edition.
Radio continues to follow the same cycle that has been an earmark of the medium for decades. Often, a short news update is featured around the top of each hour. This interim of an hour between news breaks is possibly the shortest continuing news cycle in the media today, excepting the constant news broadcasts found on several cable television stations.