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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.