Opinion

Top Catches, Oddities and Ones that Almost Got Away: 2016 in The Tyee

A look at the stories that captured your attention — and comments — this year.

By Bryan Carney 30 Dec 2016 | TheTyee.ca

Bryan Carney is senior web producer at The Tyee.

Thanks to cold hard metrics like visits and shares and the qualitative feedback we get in comments, messages attached to donations and sung into our voicemail, we have a pretty good idea of the kinds of stories Tyee readers responded to in 2016.

We’ll start with the hits, based on stats about visits. But as eclectic indie media supporters who have, for instance, a love for archaic technologies like printing out stories, we know you count on us for other angles of curation.

So here are the stories that most inspired you not only to read, but to read carefully, to share, print, comment, google and more in what no one could claim was a dull news year.

MOST READ

We’re leading with the hits, the ones that captured the most raw visitors from any source — regular readers, newsletter subscribers or people who just discovered a story through a Google search.

1) Canada Post Gets the Message: Things Have Changed

The year’s most visited story (thanks in large part to concerned Canada Post users googling the topic) was Erika Shaker’s insightful look July 14 at what looked like a looming Canada Post lockout.

2) Christy Clark Just Got Laughed Out of the Supreme Court of Canada

Crawford Kilian’s Nov. 11 debrief on the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in favour of the BC Teachers’ Federation is the year’s winner among readers who found their way to it through our regular channels — regular Tyee readers, people who learned of the story through our emailed newsletters and, especially, social media.

3) In September, Did the Liberals Out-Harper the Conservatives?

Jeremy J. Nuttall’s Sept. 29 account of prime ministerial déjà vu was a hit, especially with people who receive our emailed newsletters. We also got a significant bump from people who missed the real Harper enough to google his name and land on this story.

4) Forget the Praise: BC’s Carbon Tax Is a Failure

Bill Tieleman’s plea to hold the applause for B.C.’s carbon tax on March 8 netted an exceptionally high proportion of new readers, mainly googlers who wanted to know about the province’s eight-year-old carbon tax.

5) Four Harsh Truths for Canada’s Lovestruck Pipeline Politicians

Andrew Nikiforuk’s harsh truths were read by a large audience predominantly brought to the story through Facebook posts. (They might also have been unable to resist the alliteration in the headlines and deck.) This must-read was also deservedly second on the most engaging list for the year; we skipped listing it again below.

MOST ENGAGING (ie. stories you read for the most time)

It’s not just about attracting people with a clever headline. We’re interested in compelling stories that command readers’ attention. Here are the stories that readers stayed with for the longest average time this year.

960px version of Satellite-Dishes.jpg
Crawford Kilian’s piece on intelligent life in the universe was the best at holding readers’ attention this year. Photo by CGP Grey, Creative Commons licensed.

1) Have Canadians Discovered 234 Alien Civilizations? And Should We Friend Them?

Crawford Kilian’s Oct. 26 look at signs of intelligent life in the universe topped the stories this year, with readers spending a whopping (by Earthling Internet attention-span standards) average 14 minutes on the story.

2) Canada’s New Democrats Can Learn from Trump — Or Lose

Tieleman’s Nov. 15 call for New Democrats to heed the signals and lessons from our nearest aliens to the south and their election of Donald Trump captured the second most attentive group of readers of 2016.

3) Rachel Notley: The Kinder Morgan Interview

While we couldn’t get B.C. Premier Christy Clark to sit down with us this year-end, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley found the time to make her case for the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project and defend her government’s climate change plans. Tieleman’s report on the interview on Dec. 13 attracted and held readers — almost one-third from Alberta.

4) Vancouver in the ‘70s: Grime, Gangs, Protest — and Far Crazier

Jesse Donaldson delved into some gritty Vancouver history by way of two important books on the topic released this year. Many of you, unsurprisingly an overwhelmingly Vancouver group, hung on until his last word.

5) Eight Ways to Fix Broken Politics in Canada, Without Electoral Reform

Tieleman the engagement master captures yet another spot in this category with this Oct. 25 column about the folly of ditching the current first-past-the-post electoral system and other measures that could address the problems with our democracy.

MOST COMMENTED

Lots of news sites have banished comments in the last few years, but The Tyee continues to offer readers the chance to share ideas, arguments and, sometimes, rants. Here are the stories that inspired the most comments.

1) What Sparked the Parliamentary Brawl?

How innocent the earliest days of Trudeau’s term must seem to him now. Back in May, when Jeremy Nuttall wrote this story, the greatest blow to Trudeau’s then near spotless image could be delivered by the hinge that joins his humerus and ulna bones.

Nuttall, our Parliament Hill reporter, was ready to make sure “elbowgate” was documented from a Tyee angle, inspiring the most reader comments of 2016. Try reading his opening lines without clicking on the story again.

“Call it ‘Parliament XLII: War on the Floor.’ A melee of ties, high heels, brunette locks and beard hair was the main event after a tense day in the House of Commons Wednesday.”

2) The European Union and the Misery of Bigness

Small is beautiful, suggests Nikiforuk in his prescient pre-Brexit analysis on June 23. The 500-plus comments seemed to touch on most ideas about global economic history in the unique Tyee comment section fashion we know and love.

3) Mulcair Didn’t Fail NDP, Flaky Strategic Voters Did

Former Canadian Labour Congress head Ken Georgetti’s short column on April 6 suggesting the federal NDP post-election blame committee look beyond the party’s bearded leader inspired almost 500 comments from armchair campaign managers.

4) Why We Young Workers Turned Our Backs on Trudeau

This joint piece from young union activists explaining why they turned their backs on Trudeau in protest inspired more than 400 comments from readers.

5) Notley’s Case for Pipelines Shows an NDP Divided

It seems that articles on the NDP’s internal politics prompt passionate responses from Tyee readers. Samantha Power’s April 9 piece on Notley’s speech to the party’s Edmonton convention defending the province’s energy industry sparked a lively debate and, ultimately, 382 comments.

MOST PRINTED

Tyee readers like to print out articles. We know this because we launched the first phase of our new article page design before we had incorporated a print button — and we heard from you. (And quickly added the feature.)

Here are the stories you paper holdouts could not wait to declare “fit to print.”

1) Why the Wild Descent of Oil is Cause for Concern

Nikiforuk’s in-depth look Feb. 8 at why cheap oil wasn’t bringing a boost to the global economy — and posed a major threat — was the most fit-to-print article of 2016 as click-voted by Tyee readers.

2) How to End Child Poverty, According to a Stanford Economist

Close behind in printworthiness was Katie Hyslop’s Sept. 14 interview with Raj Chetty discussing social mobility, education, standardized testing and U.S.- Canada differences.

3) Thinking about Fidel

Crawford Kilian’s Nov. 28 summary of the life and legacy of Fidel Castro made it to an impressive number of home publisher print queues.

4) Five Years On, Clark’s ‘Open Government’ Pledge Unfulfilled

A large number of readers of Bob Mackin’s March 14 article felt compelled to print out a hard copy of his review of BC Liberal scandals and secrecy.

5) Fort Mac Blaze: Brace for New Era of Infernos

Tyee readers spared no trees in transferring to paper Ed Struzik’s May 7 summary of the factors that lead to the giant Fort McMurray wildfires and an increasing numbers of similar fires globally.  [Tyee]

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