This year, we did one of the things we always do around here: take an inventory of the past year of news for our typical “best of” roundup of the past year.
We decided to do something different than in the past and used our online measuring tools to highlight the most read stories according to Google Analytics and Facebook. Both tools show us what stories get the most reads and the most shares. Most of the time, the stories that do well online are ones we’d expect, but sometimes, they’re not.
Most of the time, the stories that are well read are pretty easy to predict. Local readers are always interested in stories about real estate and zoning. They like to read about historic homes, zoning changes and business development. New business stories are always popular. And, of course, there are those stories that are best described as big neighborhood news: Property tax hikes, the dispute over the Market on the Fareway’s beer garden (which was happily resolved this year) and the cancellation and rebranding of the Harry Potter festival after threats from the wizarding world’s rights holders: Warner Bros.
What best characterizes the stories that do really well for us – the ones that people most want to read and talk about – is that they are truly local. They’re the type of stories that are most likely not going to be found elsewhere. They might be interesting to readers of the Inquirer or even the New York Times, but those papers are not nearly as close to the sources, the institutions and the readers of Chestnut Hill and its surrounding neighborhoods as The Local.
This paper has been doing its best to get these news stories to its readers for 60 years now – a remarkable span of time for a paper that has defied a lot of odds. That it is a print paper in a time of declining print newspapers and that it manages to do so independently, without relying on a larger network or parent for support are all really noteworthy.
The Local and its staff certainly deserve credit, but I’m not writing this to give ourselves pats on the back. The truly amazing part of this newspaper’s story is that it has the loyal readers it does. In this month’s issue of “Editor & Publisher” an accounting of newspaper readership losses show that the country has lost more than 1,500 weekly and monthly papers and 43 million non-daily subscribers since 2004.
The facts can certainly seem dire for the newspaper business. The Local is certainly not without its share of troubles. But with a new publisher at the reins, a dedicated board of directors and a hardworking staff, we hope we can build on what we’ve always given readers and do even more to keep you reading. Here’s to a bigger and better 2019. Thanks for reading. Happy New Year.