Univeral Amplifier

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Really, the Biggest News of 2012

As we turn the page from one year to the next we are inevitably bombarded with “The Top Stories” and “Year in Review” lists of the year from different news agencies. I’m not sure how such lists are created, but I imagine it’s a group of executives cum cultural barometers sitting around arbitrarily creating lists by throwing darts or perhaps drawing headlines out of a hat.

Universal Information Services

We in the analytics department of Universal Information Services were curious to see which stories of the year actually were the top stories of 2012 by using a methodology a little more scientific. First, we aggregated the top stories from sites like Yahoo, CBS, MSNBC and others to get a base list, and found that according to the largest news providers, their “Top Stories of 2012” looked like this:

1. Hurricane Sandy
2. Death of Whitney Houston
3. The Obama/Romney Campaign
4. Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
5. (Tie) Fiscal Cliff and the Gangnam Style phenomenon
6. The General Petraeus Affair
7. (Three-way tie) Gas price fluctuations, President Obama’s visit to Myanmar (Surprise) and the iPad 3.

Once we had our initial top stories our analytics department ran a search on each one to determine how many hits – broadcast, print, and web – each story had, and also included stories that weren’t in the aggregate Top 10 just to be sure. Our results were somewhat different than the aggregate news sites:

1. The Fiscal Cliff
2. The Obama/Romney Campaign
3. Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
4. The Jerry Sandusky Scandal
5. Gangnam Style
6. The Shooting of Trayvon Martin
7. Hurricane Sandy

How is our list different? Our list is based on which stories, in all forms of media, not only captured the attention of the public but also had the longest legs in the media. So, while Whitney Houston’s death may have had a profound effect on our hearts (I listened to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” some 50 times in the days following the tragedy), there were far more articles read about Jerry Sandusky. Psy’s Gangnam Style, by contrast, made both lists, a distinction shared also by Hurricane Sandy and the US Presidential election – I guess that song really is everywhere.

Gangnam Style

Cheers to 2013! Let us know your predictions for the upcoming “news” year.

4 Comments on “Really, the Biggest News of 2012”

  1. 1 Deborah Trivitt said at 3:06 pm on December 31st, 2012:

    I love empirical evidence! Thanks for the good stats and quantifiable results.

  2. 2 Todd Murphy said at 9:38 am on January 2nd, 2013:

    Measuring earned media certainly has matured beyond listing the type of coverage you received and categories it falls into. Being able to show our clients what their publicity truly means is where the competitive bar is now set. Thanks for the comment.

  3. 3 Stephanie Murphy said at 10:08 am on January 1st, 2013:

    Great information based on real earned media. Thanks Universal.

  4. 4 Todd Murphy said at 9:39 am on January 2nd, 2013:

    Insight…there is no substitute. Thanks for reading.


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