Dec 26, 2019

The insane news cycles of 2019

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Data: Google News Lab; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The year started with a record-breaking government shutdown and is ending with the third presidential impeachment in U.S. history — in between an onslaught of investigations, conspiracies, scandals and memes.

Why it matters: The chart, based on search trends compiled by Google News Lab, highlights how short the public's attention span was as the media darted from one big thing to another.

  • In the era of President Trump and social media, surges of Google interest in the biggest events of the year only lasted about a week before the public's attention was drawn elsewhere.
  • Some issues, such as the 2020 election and the Mexico-U.S. border, drew more steady attention — but fewer of the dramatic spikes of interest that other topics had.

By the numbers: The news event that saw the largest single spike in Google interest compared to any other event on the list was Hurricane Dorian, which ravaged the Bahamas in early September.

The runners up:

  1. Game of Thrones final season
  2. Government shutdown
  3. Jeffrey Epstein and impeachment (tie)

For impeachment, the highest peaks of Google interest came the week of September 22 — when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the impeachment inquiry against Trump — and the week of December 15th, when Trump was impeached.

Greta Thunberg, who was unknown at the beginning of the year, received surges of interest in late September and mid-December, giving her more search interest in the last three months than the China trade war, the 2020 presidential election or Brexit.

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