Searching for News: The Flint Water Crisis

Searching for News: The Flint Water Crisis. Pew Research Center. Katerina Eva Matsa, Amy Mitchell and Galen Stocking. April 27, 2017.

During the long saga of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan – an ongoing, multilayered disaster that exposed about 100,000 residents to harmful contaminants and lead and left them even as of early 2017 advised to drink filtered or bottled water – local and regional audiences used online search engines as a way to both follow the news and understand its impact on public and personal health.

A new Pew Research Center study, based on anonymized Google search data from Jan. 5, 2014, through July 2, 2016, delves into the kinds of searches that were most prevalent as a proxy for public interest, concerns and intentions. The study also tracks the way search activity ebbed and flowed alongside real world events and their associated news coverage. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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