Just about every news outlet puts together its list of most popular news topics of the previous year. It's nice to see where we've been and where we're going in terms of news events. Today we posted our five most-viewed stories of 2011. But do the most popular items on the list necessarily mean they're the most important or have the most impact?
If you see Kris Humphries at the top, you might be inclined to say no. But I'd urge you to consider some of the other top stories before making up your mind.
As a journalist, there are a handful of stories I'll always remember covering, and always remember where I was when they happened. The May 22 tornado was one of those stories. I was eight months pregnant and staring out the front door when the tornado hit—just blocks from our house. Promising my husband I'd be careful, I waddled my way around north Minneapolis and Golden Valley for hours, taking pictures, talking with people, Tweeting and posting news on Patch.
I've covered plenty of storms in different towns and cities in my career, but I had never seen so many trees uprooted and so much widespread damage right in the middle of a metropolitan area. Theodore Wirth Park took a beating, and if you've been near the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and Theodore Wirth Parkway, you know the kind of permanent changes that happened in less than a minute last spring.
The community stepped forward to help so many who lost homes—just blocks from our own. And residents are still working to fix and rebuild right here in Golden Valley. In fact, we've got a story running later this week about the way the Minneapolis Park Board is clearing trees from Theo Wirth.
So with all of that in mind, I looked at the numbers for 2011, assuming the tornado was in our top spot as the most read story of the year. Instead, I was surprised to find the number one and number three most popular stories of 2011 in Golden Valley were about Kris Humphries. You know—Kim Kardashian's ex-husband, the reality television star, the NBA player, and oh yeah, the former Hopkins High School basketball standout.
After you've rolled your eyes and wondered which of your neighbors could possibly have read about Humphries, you might want to consider the results of two polls we conducted about Humphries. In one poll regarding his marriage to Kim Kardashian, nearly half chose "I couldn't care less." Out of three options, more than half of the votes went to "I don't know and I don't care" in the poll about the minor league hockey team offering Humphries a job.
Think about that. Half the people responding that they don't care about him did care enough to vote in a poll that was in a story that they had to click on about Humphries.
I'm not suggesting this says something terrible about our community. Not at all. But I do understand why Barbara Walters made the Kardashians some of her fascinating people of 2011. Just like a car wreck, we all know we should look away, but we don't.
So with Humphries, while we all say we couldn't care less, perhaps we really mean we wish we couldn't care less.
If it makes you feel any better, the two popular Humphries stories were actually about his basketball career—a career that had its start at one of our high schools and a career that would be followed with or without the Kardashians.
The story about his divorce with Kim? It didn't crack the top ten.
We've got a detailed list of our top five individual stories for 2011 here, but when we look at our overall coverage, and not individual articles, we find that the May 22 tornado did, indeed, have the most views.
And while stories about crime and police—like the I-394 shooting or the panhandler who was arrested several times—were high on the list, so were stories about local businesses and local government. The articles previewing the mayoral and city council races were popular for several days, as many people used our voting guides before they voted in the Nov. 8 election.
Personally, I'd say the May 22 tornado was probably the biggest story of 2011 here in Golden Valley. What was big news to you in 2011? And what do you want to see more or less of in 2012? Take our poll or share your thoughts in the comment section.