Dec 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The relentless 2020 news cycle in one chart

Data: Google Trends; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

If you're feeling extra tired this holiday season, blame the non-stop news cycle of 2020, as visualized in Axios' fourth annual Google Trends chart.

Why it matters: From a pandemic to multi-city protests to contested elections, 2020 has been one unprecedented crisis after another. "We have never seen a year like this in Google Trends history," Simon Rogers, a Google data editor, told Axios."These were huge stories that changed how we search."

  • Because of the overwhelming volume of search interest in the broad topics of "coronavirus" and "elections," Axios left those terms out of our list.
  • We opted instead to include more specific, related topics like "masks," "Anthony Fauci," "absentee ballots" and "Joe Biden."

Between the lines: The chart again reveals how short Americans' attention span can be, with surges in Google searches often lasting only a week for a given topic.

By the numbers: Excluding "coronavirus" and "'elections," Kobe Bryant's death generated the largest spike in searches of any other single event.

  • But overall Google interest in "coronavirus" over the year overshadowed Kobe Bryant by more than 10 times, according to Google Trends data.
  • You can see COVID-19's impact on Americans' lives in a wide variety of Google search trends. Searches about unemployment, hunger and food banks were higher than ever before, Rogers said.
  • Even so, the spike in searches for "elections" around Nov. 3 was even higher than any single spike of interest in coronavirus, although interest in the virus remained high for longer.
Go deeper