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Visualizing the Lifespan of a News Story

News Life Span: Which stories stay longest in the public view, and which ones fade away? – “In today’s “attention economy,” attention is a resource. Furthermore, trust in the media is at an all-time low—arguably the effect of the polarization of the political landscape and the spread of “fake news” in the Trump Era. Given this shifting media landscape, which stories still hold our attention? Knowing which events persist in public memory and which ones fade away can give us greater insight into the direction society is evolving. One way to gauge public attention is by measuring a story’s “search interest” over time, based on Google search data. Due to its volume, search interest can be a good proxy for the public’s interests. This visualization explores search interest across the United States around various news events, curated by Axios. In addition, the stories are aggregated by category, including Politics & Elections, Natural Catastrophes, Environment & Science, Social Issues, Violence & War, and Obituaries. The form and size of the search interest plots depict how public interest unfolds over time. Examining where searches occur can reveal regional differences in event interest. News stories for natural catastrophes tend to attract the highest interest from the places most affected. For example, the greatest concentration of searches for Hurricane Florence came from regions along the eastern seaboard directly in its path. Events that influence the whole country, like the Midterm elections in November 2018, exhibit more uniform search interest across the entire United States…”

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