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Data to go: What drove the news

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Sara Wise, Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Looking beyond the ongoing, encompassing storyline of the pandemic and vaccination efforts, the fallout from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was the dominant topic of online interest during PresidentBiden's opening months in office, according to exclusive data from NewsWhip.

The big picture: With the sitting president no longer a singular force of drama and controversy, the attention of the news world has reached beyond politics.

By the numbers: During this period, vaccinations generated the most overall engagement, largely driven by the sheer volume of coverage.

  • The Capitol riot and impeachment were the second and third biggest topics but averaged much higher interactions per article (likes, comments, shares) than vaccines.

Topics outside of the White House have captured our attention and emotion in the last 100 days, but they have been fleeting.

  • In late January, we fixated on former President Trump's impeachment and then the populist-driven surge in GameStop stock.
  • Trump's impeachment concluded with his acquittal in February, and we moved on to Sen. Ted Cruz's international travels as the COVID relief bill began to pick up steam.
  • March began with an uproar about suspended Dr. Seuss books and ended with a flurry of news and controversy about the Georgia voting bill, hatred against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the British royal family and Rep. Matt Gaetz.
  • In April, conversation about restrictive voting bills intensified, infrastructure talk picked up and the nation's eyes turned to Minnesota for the Derek Chauvin trial.

Between the lines: Meme-powered events like the Suez Canal boat and GameStop, while driven by social media, did not lend themselves to high engagement on news articles of the events.

  • Media coverage tended to be more buttoned-up and less creative than the activity that was native to the platforms.

Stories about Biden generated 622 million interactions on social media, compared to 515 million for Trump.

  • But engagement per article for Trump was nearly 50% higher, showing how he continues to be a social media lightning rod, even with his own accounts banned.
  • However, nothing compared to Cruz's travels on a per-article basis. Stories about him averaged 3,144 interactions, nearly twice as much as the next biggest — Dr. Seuss.

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