What was the top story for 2014 – some might say our North Valley Hospital District – the closing of the Assisted Living was certainly the top story of 2013. However, with $3 million in warrants paid down to nearly zero, the hospital district – administrators and commissioners, aren’t the targets they once were. Don’t get us wrong, things are heating up again with the nursing home looking like it’s going the way of the AL if someone doesn’t come up with a way to get it operating in the black again.
No, the top story of the year was one that didn’t take place in our backyards at all, but in our neighbors’ to the south. The Carlton Complex Fire certainly drew the most attention from readers – both in the newspaper, on our website and especially through social media. 2014 could definitely be labeled the Year of Fire with the largest fire in the state’s recorded history.
While the traditional newspaper – the one you can hold in your hand, is still king at the Gazette-Tribune, our website is certainly getting its share of traffic with nearly 280,000 page views in 2014 – 219,000 of those being “unique.” The stories being read on the website certainly reflect what was most important to our readers. It’s no surprise that the front page got the most hits, but obituaries and then cops and courts were next. The next most frequented part of the website was our Green Editions, where you can see all the news and ads, just as they appear in the hard copy each week. Then came General News, Sports and Outdoors and Community.
The number one read story online this year involved fire as well and was “Tonasket makes contingency plans for fire.” It had over 3000 views. It’s no surprise the obituaries get lots of hits, people want to read about their loved ones no matter where they live and that often means the other side of the country and even abroad. There were five individuals whose obituaries made the top 50 – two unfortunately were in the OHS Class of 1979 and the another was the mother of someone I graduated with.
Brent and I had a couple of our columns top the list of most read online as well.
It’s also no surprise that crime stories attract a lot of attention – not only the crime stats, but the big stories like the high school librarian arrested for sexual misconduct with a Tonasket student, the man sought and later arrested for attempted murder, the investigation of Social Security fraud that led to the discovery of the grave of the suspect’s father and the story of the contents of the storage locker that were seized by the ATF and FBI in Oroville.
Any story with Jack Black’s name in it made the top 50. The comedic actor, whose father and step-mother live in the Tonasket area, has been enlisted to help raise funds for the spray park and swimming pool.
Not surprisingly one of the most read stories was more of a warning from state Fish and Wildlife when a cougar was spotted wandering around where kids wait for the school bus in the morning.
A few of the business stories also made the Top 50, including Aikins purchase of the grocery business from the Prince Family and Sterling Bank to merge with Umpqua.
And just because they get a lot of hits doesn’t mean they’re recent stories either. One article written in October 2013, Golden Opportunity? An ancient river of gold” has staying power because it was in the top 25 most viewed story online last year.
Hope you have time to take a look back with us this week and next as we review some of the stories and pictures that made the news in 2014.