Sunday, January 08, 2006

ISSUE: Do readers really care about serious issues?

ORIGINAL URL (links to all stories)
POSTED: December 30, 2005 at CyberJournalist.NET

ORIGINAL HEADLINE: Horse sex and fluff are online hits

Seattle Times editors published a list of the most clicked online stories of the year and found that the top story -- and five of the top 20 -- were about a man who died from a perforated colon while having sex with a horse.

"I don't know whether to ignore this alarming factoid or to embrace it," says Seattle Times Columnist Danny Westneat. "It's not just the horse sex. The rest of the top 20 people's-choice list is eye-opening, as well....
"A lot of the stories on the list are what we serious-minded media professionals would imperiously call "soft." There's an article on a vanity license plate that showed the chemical formula for meth. A judge deciding a cat's life is worth exactly $45,480. Congressman Jim McDermott being featured in the book "100 People Who Are Screwing Up America."

"There's not much on the so-called "issues" we're always implored to focus on, such as transportation or education. Nothing on the big campaign topics of the year, such as the monorail or gas tax. And nothing on this paper's major investigations or in-depth series....

"There's got to be a lesson in all this. Maybe the Web favors shorter, more emotional stories, and all you paying subscribers are happily wading through my columns on transit policy or our three-part projects.
"Or, maybe, some of us are not giving readers enough of what you really want."

The Seattle Times' Top 20

Below are the most read local news stories for 2005 as measured by online traffic at The list doesn't include national news or sports stories:

1. Enumclaw-area animal-sex case investigated
2. Couple's final photos "an echo from the grave"
3. Trespassing charged in horse-sex case
4. Election trial dispatches
5. Vanity plate shows drug formula
6. Videotapes show bestiality, Enumclaw police say
7. Fast-food shop owner takes off, employees take over
8. McDermott makes list of author's 100 worst Americans
9. Mall shooter: "World will feel my anger"
10. Tempest brews over quotes on Starbucks cups
11. Defense hawk Dicks says he now sees war as a mistake
12. Did local vice cops cross the line?
13. Hey, no cutting in line!
14. Details we can't quite comprehendNicole Brodeur column on horse sex.
15. Judge awards $45,480 in cat's death
16. New error found in vote tally
17. One high school . 44 valedictorians
18. Huge I-90 rockslide smashes car, kills 3 women
19. Charge filed in connection with man who died having sex with horse
20. Why state chose not to commit violent molester

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