Commentary

Publishers See More Signs Of Coronavirus Fatigue

There is more evidence that readers have lost interest in news about the coronavirus pandemic, which appears to have peaked in mid-March. The shift signals that publishers should consider highlighting other kinds of content with web traffic likely to remain elevated until the end of lockdowns.

Earlier this week, we presented data collected by content-recommendation company Taboola that indicated a 41% drop in U.S. page views of coronavirus stories during the second week of April, from the prior seven-day period.

The fading interest in the pandemic also was seen in a study by NewsWhip, the social-media tracking firm that monitors engagement with publisher content. It found total interactions with English-language coronavirus stories peaked on March 16 and fell 25% by the end of the month.

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Coronavirus stories still showed higher engagement than non-coronavirus stories, indicating reader interest in the pandemic remained elevated despite the drop-off. NewsWhip counts user actions such as likes, shares and comments on social media as engagements.

Among traditional print publishers that post stories to Facebook, The Daily Mail had the highest number of engagements during the first quarter at 279 million, according to NewsWhip.

The high engagement for the British tabloid is another sign that its photo-heavy stories about celebrities, scandals and breaking news are part of a winning formula to generate web traffic.

The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the New York Post also generated millions of engagements during the first quarter. All these publishers derived those interactions with a significant volume of stories.

The New York Post's story about the deadly chopper crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant generated more than 8 million interactions on Facebook, the most of any traditional news publisher. For the sake of comparison, a post by the Texas Memes website saw the highest engagement at 12.7 million during the quarter, according to NewsWhip.

Facebook users commented the most on a story by The Independent, which ended its print edition in 2016, about Amazon's suspension of all warehouse shipments except medical supplies and household necessities. The story received 1.4 million comments.

The Atlantic's story "The Trump Presidency Is Over" about President Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic spurred 1.39 million comments.

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