The relentless 2020 news cycle in one chart
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.
- You can see this with 2020 topics like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tearing up President Trump's State of the Union speech, Kobe Bryant's death and the Beirut explosion.
- But several big topics saw multiple weeks of increased interest this year, such as masks, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's exit from the royal family, the QAnon conspiracy theory, the record-breaking use of absentee ballots because of the pandemic, and the various investigations and conspiracy theories involving Hunter Biden.
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.