Year 2021 was full of events. Starting with major events such as Brexit, US Capitol riot, Myanmar coup, blockage of Suez Canal, death of Prince Philip, Israel-Palestine crisis, withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, ending with a new Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Now let’s look at the recap of 2021.

A few words about the data

@the_datanaut was reading the headlines of news every day on /r/worldnews, Al Jazeera, BBC, Reuters, New York Times, The Guardian and Washington Post.

In numbers, it was in total more than 300,000 news headlines.

To get a better picture on what happened, similar headlines were grouped together based on their semantic similarity.

How to read the visualization?

Each topic is represented by a bubble chart. Horizontal position of a bubble represents time (January 2021 - December 2021) and size of the bubble represents popularity of represented topic at the time. Color of bubbles is only a visual cue signalling time of the year.

Without further ado, here’s the first chart.

Top 40 topics of 2021

Huh. Where’s all the COVID madness? The Tigray War in Ethiopia?

The topics visualized above were selected because they were mentioned a lot during short time period. In other words, the topics may be described as the most shocking topics, since a lot of attention was given to them during short time. This, however, excludes omnipresent topics such as those mentioned above.

If we look at topics that were given attention throughout the whole year, we see a slightly different set.

Top 40 topics of 2021 by year popularity

These topics were popular during the whole year. There are still important topics missing, because they were given less attention than the topics above.

Stay tuned for a more detailed visualization!


As an extra, you can watch the 2021 news compressed into a minute and half in the following video.

2021 in the news