Monday, January 28, 2019

New project: The shape of news in Google searches

We've just launched a new project, The Lifespan of News Stories, designed by Schema in partnership with Axios and the Google News Initiative. Axios wrote a story of their own.

My role, as usual, was to art-direct a bit and bug the Schema folks every couple of weeks with design suggestions and tweaks. See our previous projects here.

From Schema's press release:

The Lifespan of News Stories is a collaboration between Schema, Google News Initiative, Alberto Cairo and Axios. The project analyzes the shape of search interest data from the top news stories of 2018. By visualizing and categorizing the shape types into four groups, we start seeing patterns. For example, stories that are skewed to the right are usually unexpected events such as a celebrity death or a natural catastrophe. Stories with multiple peaks are normally longer in duration due to longer exposure in the media, such as the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. Stories with broad national interest can have long tails or long ramp ups, such as the midterm elections. Finally, it is possible to visualize that news stories come and go with a certain rhythm throughout the year with the exception of a few gaps, notably during the summer school break and winter holidays.

The data has its limitations, needless to say, as it's just Google search interest and doesn't capture conversations in social media platforms, but it's still revealing, I think:

The shapes of the lifespan of news stories —suggested by Axios— are organized in six categories, which can be explored at will:

My favorite part is this simple explainer of shapes:

Anyway, enjoy!