Photo Credit: Associated Press
Hard to believe another year has almost flown by.
So as the curtain is about to come crashing down on 2013, I checked in with some news organizations to find out which story drew the most web traffic.
It was, after all, a shocking year: with two bombs exploding at the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts, which killed three and injured 264 others; disquieting revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been conducting a mass surveillance program; and stunning news that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope, becoming the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from the Americas, and the first pope from the Southern Hemisphere. He took the name Francis, becoming the 266th pope and the 265th successor to St. Peter.
What was most surprising from this survey, at least to me, are the formats of content that is most appealing to readers of online news sites. As will become abundantly clear from the list below, photo galleries and innovative visual presentations seems to be the flavor of the day.
Chris Quinn, Vice President of Content for the Northeast Ohio Media Group, the company that leads the digitally focused news operation at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio, informs me that ``when we set out in August to transition more fully into the digital universe, one of our key goals was to make better use of digital tools.'' ``The top 5 pieces in traffic'' Quinn said, `` so far this year demonstrate that this community very much wants to experience stories in multiple formats.'' The top two items that drove the most traffic at the Plain Dealer's site (Cleveland.com) were photo galleries.
Similarly, Nancy Sullivan, Vice President of Communications at the Los Angeles Times, said 43% of their web traffic on Oscar night (the story of the year that drew the most web traffic) came from mobile devices; while 54% of traffic on Oscar Sunday was driven by photo galleries, such as their dazzling Red Carpet Arrivals gallery.
What follows, then, are the top stories of 2013 (based on page views or most web traffic) that was provided to me by different news organizations and popular online sites.
Top Stories of 2013
• The Guardian: The identity of an American computer specialist, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee, and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, who leaked up to 200,000 classified documents to the press, primarily involving a mass NSA surveillance program, is revealed for the first time by The Guardian. Edward Snowden told the British national daily newspaper in a taped interview posted on its website: ``I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things.''
The Guardian EXCLUSIVE has generated nearly 3.6 million page views since June.
• Bloomberg News: Their EXCLUSIVE ``Boston Bomb Victim in Photo Helped Identify Suspects’’ generated the most page views of the year at Bloomberg.com. The story reports Jeff Bauman’s face-to-face confrontation with one of the Boston Marathon bombers may have turned up key clues in the FBI's manhunt of the perpetrators.
• The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio reported on one of the most sensational criminal cases in U.S. history, when it was learned in May that three local women: Amanda Berry, Georgina ``Gina'' DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were rescued in a house they were held captive in by Ariel Castro since their disappearance between 2002 and 2004. Castro was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole, but was later found dead in his jail cell (from an apparent suicide), on September 3rd of this year. The events that transpired on Seymour Avenue was captured in a Plain Dealer Photo Gallery, which generated 1.5 million page views, the most popular item at Cleveland.com for 2013.
The second most popular item on its website was another photo gallery, and another remarkable story drawing worldwide attention, surrounding Scott Nagy, a terminal cancer patient who with the help of the University Hospital medical staff (on October 12th) was able to give his daughter away on her wedding day, while lying on a hospital gurney and using a respirator. Nagy died two weeks later.
• CNN's Photo Gallery: ``People We Lost in 2013'' generated 90 million page views, according to a company spokesperson.
• The most popular story on The Wall Street Journal's website for 2013 dealt with a group of men in their 40's, despite having moved on—to college, careers, families and new cities, have been playing ``tag'' , the playground game for 23 years.
• At Time Magazine's website, the most popular item of the year was a creative interactive article, which invited readers to take a test in order to discover which of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia best suits their personality trait. Did you know, for example, that West Virginia is the most neurotic state, Utah is the most agreeable and inhabitants of Wisconsin are the country's most extroverted?
• The most popular story at ESPN.com in 2013 was Wright Thompson’s ``Outside the Lines’’-branded story “Michael Jordan Has Not Left The Building” with 2.6 million page views.
• The two top stories of 2013 at FoxNews.com dealt with the Boston Marathon Bombing. Their 3rd and 4th most popular items for the year were captured in photo galleries: the first about a fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West, Texas, which killed up to 15, injuring more than 160 ; and another about a 10-ton meteor that streaked at supersonic speed over Russia's Ural Mountains, setting off blasts that injured nearly 1,100 people.
• The top story at New York Magazine's website for 2013 was an article written by Joe Jonas, the American pop singer, musician, actor, and dancer, reflecting about his life as a Jonas Brother.
The 2nd most popular article was an amusing feature by Maureen O’Connor, chronicling how thanks to social media, ex-boyfriends are harder than ever to avoid. And the 3rd most popular story at NYMag.com was Joe Hagan's feature on Matt Lauer and the dysfunctional family atmosphere at NBC’s Today Show.
• The Miami Herald: The most viewed story at MiamiHerald.com dealt with members of the Miami Gardens police who were caught on camera arresting the same suspects over and over again, at times arresting them for trespassing even though they have permission to be on the premises; officers conducting searches of places of business without proper search warrants; using excessive force on subjects who are not resisting arrest; and other cases of filing inaccurate police reports in connection with the arrests.
• The Los Angeles Times: LATimes.com's digital strategy for its Oscars coverage (February 24th) , which focused on a real second-screen experience, including on-location blogging, tweeting, live video broadcasts from the newsroom during the ceremony’s commercial breaks, social media-based balloting, photography, and other in-depth reporting, resulted in a two-day (Sun & Mon) overall traffic numbers of 34.6 million page views, eclipsing last year's 2-day Oscar record of 21.4 million.
• Dallas Morning News: The most popular item at DallasNews.com was a profile on retiring school teacher, Dale Irby, from Titche Elementary in the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas, who wore the same 1970s-era polyester shirt and coffee-colored sweater for the school picture for the last 40 years. The article is accompanied with a photo gallery of Irby, showing that while his face might have changed over the last four decades, his attire for the school picture remained the same.
• New York Daily News: The most viewed story at NYDailyNews.com was the uproar that erupted over the death of Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson's two-year old son after he had been beaten two days earlier, allegedly by his mother's boyfriend.
The second most viewed story at the Daily News’ website was Jets' coach Rex Ryan being spotted sun bathing, while sporting a tattoo that resembled his wife wearing Mark Sanchez’s no. 6 green jersey.
• Newsday: The top local story at Newsday.com came back in September when a vendor, Sang Ho Kim, 63, opened fire, killing one man and critically wounding another at an East Garden City company, terrorizing a busy shopping and business district as police hunted into the night for the killer.
• ProPublica, the independent non-profit investigative newsroom that produces journalism in the public interest, said its most viewed story of the year dealt with a feature about two ``cradle Democrats’’ and passionate supporters of President Obama who had their health insurance cancelled because it did not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
Their second most view story concerned an alarming investigation, which reported that more than 1,500 Americans died after accidentally taking too much of a drug renowned for its safety: acetaminophen, one of the nation’s most popular pain relievers.
• FBI.Gov: The FBI's top story of the year was the item that offered a $5 million reward to anyone who can help them locate 13 items stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, including rare paintings by Rembrandt, Degas, and Vermeer. The items were originally stolen on March 18, 1990, representing the largest property crime in U.S. history.
• Cook Political Report: The astute Amy Walter, National Editor of The Cook Political Report, wondered back in April, if the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare, when open enrollment begins in October, will shift the simmering debate from immigration and gun reform to the perils of President Obama’s signature legislation as Americans begin to see their premiums rise. The potential ``sleeper issue of 2014'' was the most viewed column of the year at Cookpolitical.com.
• At The Smoking Gun, the most viewed story of the year concerned a hacker, using the online alias "Guccifer" breaking into the Bush family e-mail accounts, swiping private correspondence and personal photos, including sensitive emails about George H.W. Bush’s recent hospitalization.
• Weather Channel: At Weather.com, the most viewed article of the year was a fascinating presentation of rare photos of different styles of bathing suits at the beaches, particularly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, well before the introduction of the bikini in 1946.
• Google: Top 100 Searches of 2013: http://is.gd/y61fHY
• Yahoo: 2013 Year in Review-The top-searched news stories of 2013: Trials, bombings, Obamacare. http://is.gd/XQ8HJk
• Bing: Top Searches in 2013: http://is.gd/Bg63Qa
• Top Trends of 2013 on Facebook: http://is.gd/Y6LMuZ
• 2013 on Twitter: http://is.gd/B2iUp0
• Top 10 YouTube Videos of 2013: http://is.gd/X54uqj
• Best of 2013 Flickr Photos : http://is.gd/d9NpHm
December 16, 2013