Why Audiences Hate Hard News—And Love Pretending Otherwise

Derek Thompson in The Atlantic:

ScreenHunter_695 Jun. 18 17.52The most important story in the world, according to every major American newspaper this morning, is the violent splintering of Iraq. It was the front-page and top-of-the-homepage story in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and more.

Surely, there are millions of people who are reading about Iraq, because they're fascinated in the Middle East, in foreign policy, or in the general news cycle. But despite Iraq's prominent location on every major newspaper, the mostreadstories on those papers' websites aren't about Iraq, at all.

In the Post, the top stories included an op-ed about Benghazi, and updates about the World Cup and a midwest tornado. WSJ's most-read box led off with two stories about YouTube games and taxes. The Times' most-emailed stories included two pieces about gluten and postpartum depression. Not one of the most-read or most-emailed boxes on three papers' websites included the wordsIraq, Sunni, or Maliki when I looked this morning.

Iraq is a uniquely difficult news story. But there's nothing unique about U.S. readers side-stepping the news cycle.

More here.