Jan 25, 2019

What captured America's attention in 2018

Last year's whirlwind news cycle saw another series of White House exits, a "Blue Wave," hurricanes, SpaceX rocket launches and the rescue of a Thai soccer team trapped in a cave, as seen in a new collaboration by Google Trends and Schema in partnership with Axios.

Data: Google News Lab; Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Between the lines: The news cycles for some of the biggest moments of 2018 only lasted for a median of 7 days — from the very beginning of higher-than-normal interest until the Google searches fizzled out.

  • Looking at the shapes of the news cycles in the chart, it's clear which events managed to keep a consistent level of American attention — such as the migrant caravans, which Trump spent months talking about before the elections.
  • Other news topics, like the Capital Gazette shooting or Stormy Daniels, saw a fast spike in interest that almost immediately dissipated.
  • Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence tied for the events with the most overall search traffic.
  • The midterm elections, however, had the longest lasting surge in search interest — 43 days.

The local news cycle: Big metro areas drove search traffic for most of the news events.

  • But sports-related news tends to peak around the teams' home cities, according to Google Trends and Schema, and areas most impacted by natural disasters also account for the most search interest in those phenomena.

Go deeper

The next frontier for Big Science

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In 1945, engineer and science administrator Vannevar Bush laid out a framework for support of science in the U.S. that drove prosperity and American dominance. That model isn't enough anymore, experts said at an event this week in Washington, D.C.

The big picture: With China threatening to overtake the U.S. in R&D spending even as research becomes more international, science must manage the tension between cooperation and competition.

U.S. and Taliban sign peace deal

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad (L) and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (R) sign a peace agreement during a ceremony in Qatar. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images

The United States signed a peace deal with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar on Saturday after over a year of off-and-on negotiations, The New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The signing of the deal officially begins the process to end the United States' longest war, which has spanned nearly two decades. The agreement sets a timetable to pull the remaining 13,000 American troops out of Afghanistan, per the Times, but is contingent on the Taliban's completion of commitments, including breaking ties with international terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda.

Biden bets it all on South Carolina

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Most Joe Biden admirers Axios interviewed in South Carolina, where he's vowed to win today's primary, said they're unfazed by his embarrassing losses in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

Why it matters: Biden has bet it all on South Carolina to position himself as the best alternative to Bernie Sanders — his "good buddy," he tells voters before skewering Sanders' record and ideas.