For better or worse, my online news site of choice is CNN.com. Last year, when they rolled out their new look, they also introduced a feature (which is still in "beta") called NewsPulse. It's essentially a look at what stories are being viewed most by site visitors during a given time period. For quite some time now, I've found the feature amusing, so I try to check it every once in a while. The most popular stories (over a longer period of time) typically fall into one of the following three categories:
- Celebrity stories
- Stories involving sex
- "Big News" stories
In general, the popularity of any given story follows the order above. Celebrity news, especially celebrity death stories, seem to be very popular. The recent death of Casey Johnson, the Johnson & Johnson heiress, was particularly popular because it fit both of the first two categories: she was a 'celebrity' and very openly gay.
I've always enjoyed looking at statistics like this. Google's year-end zeitgeist is equally as enjoyable to peruse (though, it's obvious that it's filtered to be family friendly). This kind of data paints an interesting picture into our culture's interests.