Digital Desk

Here are top 10 most-read stories of 2013

Journalists love top 10 lists as much as people like to read them, and there’s arguably no better time to publish such lists than the end of the year when we all like to reflect on the events that made us laugh, cry, scowl and pontificate.

Recently, newsroom staffers compiled their annual list of top 10 stories for 2013, and we collected your votes too to create a top 10 readers’ list. Some years those lists can be quite different. This year, they weren’t too far apart.

Today, we have another list. It’s the a list of the top 10 most-read stories on columbian.com, and other than a couple of stories, it looks nothing like those other two lists.

You won’t find what many consider the top three stories of the year: the Columbia River Crossing, Clark County’s hiring of state Sen. Don Benton and the influence of businessman or county commissioner David Madore on the local political landscape.

No, what you’ll find instead at the top of the list is that 33 years later everyone is still gripped by the drama surrounding the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. A week ago, we published a story about a recently discovered roll of film shot in May 1980, by the late Reid Blackburn, a photographer who tragically died from the blast. At last count on Dec. 31, that story had about 80,000 pageviews, which dwarfs the other nine stories on the list. (Note: To be fair, the voting by news staff and readers was completed on Dec. 20, a few days before we ran the story about the roll of film, but it’s also probably safe to assume it wouldn’t have made the other top 10 lists).

Of course, one reason stories like the lost roll of film generate so many pageviews is because other news organizations and websites link to the stories on our site. Nearly 70 percent of the people who read the story about the roll of film came to our story from another website like King 5, KGW, Boingboing, The Verge and, of course, Facebook.

It’s the power of the Internet on display. It’s how things go viral. It’s how stories from the Associated Press wire end up second on our list, which is what happened with the regional AP story we posted on our site about the recent mystery object beneath the city of Seattle that stopped the drilling of the tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way viaduct. About 55 percent of the pageviews for that story came from people who clicked on links on abovetopsecret.com and gawker.com.

It’s also how another story, but one told with video instead of words, can draw a huge audience like the You Tube video we published on Sept. 16 of the crazy last-second football victory by Columbia River over Skyview. Thanks to a mention on ESPN’s Sportscenter and on Monday Night Football, that short clip has more than 190,000 views.

As for the other top 10 most-read stories, the other eight fall into the tragedy category or, to put it bluntly, they are stories about death and/or destruction. These are the stories that lead the nightly news, such as the fire that destroyed Crestline Elementary, the bombing at the Boston Marathon or Caran Johnson’s ironic and tragic Tweeting of the death of her own husband.

Below is the full top 10 list, and if you’re curious to see more, we’ve also got the top 100.

Date Story Pageviews
26-Dec Lost roll of Mt St Helens film found 80,688
11-Dec Mysterious object blocks Seattle tunnel drilling 30,541
4-Dec Woman unknowingly Tweets death of husband in accident 29,703
3-Feb Fire destroys Crestline Elementary 24,473
28-Mar Family fears for missing Vancouver teen 23,316
15-Apr Explosions reported at Boston Marathon finish line 22,159
12-Aug Felida woman strives to raise awareness on panhandlers’ use of handouts 21,861
29-Jan Police shoot, kill prowler in northeast Vancouver 21,063
5-Mar One person dead in Brush Prairie crash 20,864
23-May Freeway bridge collapses into Skagit River 20,244

 

 

 

John Hill

John is the web editor at The Columbian, where he has worked since 1995 in various roles. A journalist for the past 25 years, he's a fan of good storytelling, data, graphics and still likes to read an actual newspaper. Twitter: @hilljohng

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