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The biggest news stories 2023

“Friends” star Matthew Perry’s death as reported by the Los Angeles Times was the “most engaging” digital stories 2023, according to Chartbeat that measures internet traffic for publishers. The top stories are defined by time spent reading on the sites of the company’s 60,000 clients. Russia’s attack on Ukraine was the main war story 2022 and during 2023, the Israel-Hamas has been another dominating war story and the statistics encouragingly show that historical explainers have been among top interest stories.

“The standout social story of 2023 was undoubtedly the missing Titan submersible. Titan submersible imploded during a voyage to the Titanic, killing all five people on board.

“In 2 short weeks, videos about the submersible garnered more views than all presidential content combined over the course of the previous six months.”

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“On top of deadly natural disasters like Tropical Storm Hilary and Idalia and fires in Maui and Canada, there were man-made catastrophes as well, and none so engaging as the rescue efforts surrounding the Titan submersible”, Chartbeat writes. 

In October, Hamas’ attack on Israel led to the dominating news reporting about the Israel-Hamas war. 

Social feeds are flooded with first-hand accounts of soldiers on the ground, passionate protesters, and civilians caught in the cross-fire, Chartbeat reports.

“Media & Entertainment publishers posted nearly 60% of their Israel-Palestine coverage to YouTube, while influencers posted over 50% of their war commentary to TikTok.”

Encouraging for journalism is that some of the most popular stories about the Israel-Hamas war were explainers like BBC’s “What is Hamas and why is it fighting Israel in Gaza” and Al Jazeera’s “What’s the Israel=Palestine conflict about? A simple guide”. 

Chartbeat concludes that this shows that audiences are interested in historical background to give context to daily breaking news.

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The Los Angeles Times had also the second-ranked most engaging digital story — the identifying of a 72-year-old shooter in the mass killing in a Monterey Park dance studio. 

The rest of the top 5 were two social feature stories and one sports:

  • CNN’s “She broke up with her boyfriend and moved in with a man she’d known for 3 weeks. Here’s what happened next.”
  • Fox News’ “Handyman turns the tables on squatters who took over his mother’s house”
  • ESPN’s “Damar Hamlin in critical condition after suffering cardiac arrest”. The American football star recovered and returned to professional football. 
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