Social and policy advocacy organizations can garner important insights from an analysis recently published by Columbia Journalism Review (CJR). Flint Residents Searched for Water Info Before News Coverage Intensified analyzed Pew Research about how residents looked online for answers about problems with their water supply long before news outlets reported on the lead poisoning. The upshot is a “proxy for public interest” of the developing crisis.
Something for advocates to keep in mind when community problems erupt but news coverage does NOT follow.
According to CJR, as conversations around the crisis developed, the online search terms used by Flint residents evolved. By studying how those search terms changed over time, one better understands how people seek answers to community problems BEFORE THEY BECOME NEWS and how citizens consume major news events.