News cycles move fast. And in an age where attention is a scarce resource, they travel at lightning-fast speed.

According to a report published by PR analytics and insights platform Memo, the vast majority of an article’s readership typically occurs on the day of publication or the day after before quickly dropping of after day three.

The annual report, which uncovers news cycle trends by asking Americans about their news consumption trends, found that most news articles are read within the first couple of days after publication.

According to the report, which relied on a random sample of 1,110 news articles, more than three-quarters (76 percent) of articles’ readership occurs, on average, within the first three days of their publication. Readership typically peaks on the day the article is published (almost 40 percent), with readership already dropping off steadily (less than 30 percent) by day two. After day three, an average article’s readership clocks in at less than 10 percent.

Memo’s 2024 State of Media & Readership Report:
Percentage of article readership reached by day after publication.

For topical news, readership was even more concentrated within the first three days (86 percent). Virtually all (95 percent) of a topical news article’s readership takes place within the first week.

The survey also discovered that, generally, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the days where readers typically consume the most news.

Not surprisingly, conflict and chaos drove the headlines last year. Case in point: Donald Trump consistently remained the top news item in 2023 and drew more readers last year than any other topic for three out of 2023’s four quarters. Other items that drew the most readership included the Israel-Hamas War, which came in second, followed by stories involving climate change and the Russia-Ukraine War. Filling out the fifth most popular news story of the year was the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other major news items for the year included the budding romance between singer/songwriter Taylor Swift and NFL Tight End Travis Kelce, which dominated the news cycle toward the end of the year. In fact, more people read about Swift and Kelce during the last three months of 2023 than climate change, according to the report. Rihanna’s Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show, which was the most-watched halftime show performance of all time and later fueled speculation that she was pregnant, was another of the biggest news items of the year. According to the Memo report, nearly twice as many people read about Rihanna’s pregnancy reveal than King Charles’ coronation.

Memo’s “2024 State of Media & Readership Report” analyzed more than a half-million articles published readership from hundreds of national, local, business, lifestyle and trade outlets in 2023.