Popular or infamous?
I recently obtained a printout of the Observer’s most-read stories for 2014 for our online publication and found the results pretty interesting.
While it is my job to try and figure out and place stories in the printed Observer that appeal to readers, it has often been difficult to find out what people are actually reading.
But the advent of the web has made it a quick exercise to see what stories captured the public’s attention online.
This year’s most-read story, wasn’t a story at all, but an opinion column written by yours truly. In it, I suggested that should Salmon Arm win the Hockeyville contest, we should share our winnings with Sylvan Lake, Alta., another Hockeyville contestant. This was because the roof of one of their arenas had collapsed, leaving that community with a shortage of ice time for its residents. To say this caused a bit of an uproar would be an understatement. But clearly the column was well-read, as it scored the most number of hits of any one item in 2014, more than doubling the second most-read item. This was likely because the column was also picked up by readers in Sylvan Lake, who read and responded in droves.
I was surprised it made the number one spot, but clearly, it was an impassioned discussion and certainly got people reading, which in my mind is always a good thing.
Crime and punishment features heavily in readership, with five of the top 10 stories featuring the police in some way. Often people criticize newspapers for not printing enough good news, but when it comes to popular reading, the list shows people still love to read about misdeeds.
Other stories that ranked highly dealt with families coping with personal tragedies. The silver lining in doing these types of stories is that as a result of publicity, many people in the community will help out in their time of need.
The remainder of the top 10 most-read online stories went like this:
#2 Salmon Arm man flees from police
#3 RCMP seeking missing woman
#4 Mishap on the mountain – a story about two men who became lost overnight on Queest Mountain.
#5 Salmon Arm man arrested for arson at fruit stand
#6 Protest grows against gas prices
#7 Jackson campus students evacuated due to bomb threat
#8 Paralyzed in accident – a story about Jake van Dongen, who was injured in a diving accident in the U.S.
#9 SPCA raids Salmon Arm residence, seizes cats and dogs
#10 Teen’s tumour requires treatment in Boston – a story about Kenna-Rae Stockbruegger’s need to travel for a specific type of radiation to shrink her brain tumour.
No doubt, there will be many more interesting stories to come in 2015, but I’m pretty sure of one thing – none are likely to feature Hockeyville.