That Miley Cyrus captures more attention than escalating war in Syria is, by now, conventional wisdom. But an exhaustive survey of news sources now reveals exactly how much attention Miley steals: Americans viewed twelve times as many pages about Miley Cyrus as they did about Syria — even though the news sources published 2.4 Syria articles for every one about Miley.
Outbrain supplies "related links" modules to a network of 100,000 publishers, including major news sources like CNN, Fox News, and ESPN. On any given day, 87 percent of Americans who browse the web will view a page with an Outbrain module, explains the company's vice-president of global marketing. They collect traffic data from every site in their network, which they use in a variety of algorithms to generate recommendations.
In the three days surrounding Miley's VMA performance and the Obama administration signaling its willingness to bomb Syria, Outbrain's network generated 8,104 stories about the former and 19,568 about the latter. The day after the VMAs, Miley Cyrus stories accounted for 12 percent of total U.S. page views, while Syria stories accounted for 1 percent.
Interest in the starlet significantly outpaced Syria in England, Australia, France, Germany, and every other nation in Outbrain's analysis — except Israel and Russia. Globally, Miley Cyrus stories generated eight times as many page views as Syria did in the days surrounding the VMAs.
Two million Syrian refugees have fled the nation. To make the country twelve times more compelling — and thus as compelling as Miley Cyrus's ass is to Americans — the conflict only needs to displace 22 million more, i.e., the entire population of Syria.
The day after the VMAs, joking about the Miley-Syria attention gap was popular online, too. The Onion told Slate's Farhad Manjoo that its best traffic day to date coincided with a widely shared parody attributed to a CNN manager, entitled "Let Me Explain Why Miley Cyrus' VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning." Laughing at those who read about Miley Cyrus is America's second-favorite pastime, right after reading about Miley Cyrus.
Most Viewed Stories
Why Millennial Pink Refuses to Go Away
Bobbi Brown on Why She Really Left Her Brand and Resisted Making a Contour Palette, and Her Next Moves
All the Things Women Are Doing Wrong
Ali Wong Loves Kondo-ing So Much, She Named Her Daughter After It
The Moment Khloé Asked the Cameras to Stop Filming
Ask a Boss: My Co-worker Talks Nonstop!
What We Lose When Sex Is All About Danger
Donald Trump Spoiled His Daughter-in-Law’s Pregnancy Announcement
What Exactly Is Going On With Donald and Melania’s Body Language?
What Is in Sean Spicer’s Teeth?
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesA Holiday Season Weekend Through London
A good guide for avid The Crown fans.It’s About Time You Learned Tove Lo’s Name
The singer has crafted pop hits you’ve heard a thousand times by now.Marina Abramovic Has Outlasted Her Lovers and, She Hopes, Her Critics
The world's most famous performance artist at 70.The Wing: Do Women Still Need a Space of Their Own?
This exclusive social club for women, is part sorority, part start-up.In Virtual Reality, Women Run the World
A new generation of female artists is making VR the most diverse corner of the male-dominated tech space.The Novelist Disguised As a Housewife
Shirley Jackson wrote 17 books while raising four children — and she couldn't have had a successful career without them.Ava DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.Unknown NFL Player Tries to Get Attention by Asking Aly Raisman Out in Video
That’s one way to do it.Don’t Mess This Up, Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.