Tyee News

The Tyee’s Top Stories of 2018 (by Many Measures)

What did readers like most this year? We figured it six ways.

By Bryan Carney 31 Dec 2018 | TheTyee.ca

Bryan Carney is Director of Web Production at The Tyee. You can follow his very occasional tweets at @bpcarney.

The Tyee doesn’t leap for link bait. Still, we’re quite interested in which stories our readers find most nourishing. There’s more than one way to measure it. Six, this year, in fact:

Which drew the most comments? Which did readers email the most to others? Which caused the most social media buzz? Which did readers linger over the longest and which did they most print out on old fashioned paper? And, of course, which drew the most visits?

Here are the results for 2018.

Most commented: Colten Boushie, voting and Jordan Peterson

The tragic death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man shot by a white farmer, inspired a lot of conversation on The Tyee. The year’s top commented piece: “Colten Boushie and Settlers’ Justice: Verdict in killing shows deeply embedded racism in legal system and society,” by David MacDonald, reprinted from The Conversation Canada.

Second most commented of 2018, by Tyee legislative reporter Andrew MacLeod: “BC Says No to Proportional Representation.”

A piece trying to head off that result was the year’s third most commented piece — David Chudnovsky’s list of “myths” he said fueled the Vote No campaign.

Zoë Ducklow’s coverage of two Vancouver rallies that demanded justice and legal reform after the Boushie verdict drew the fourth most comments.

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Jerilynn Webster speaks at Vancouver protest against not guilty verdict in Colten Boushie’s killing. Photo by Zoë Ducklow.

The other top buzz generator on The Tyee was Jordan Peterson, the Canadian professor of psychology who’s become a global celebrity by claiming political correctness is rotting academia and the wider culture.

Duncan Kinney’s suggestion we all “Ignore Him and Hold a Party” drew 873 comments in February. Shannon Rupp’s “Bluffer’s Guide” to the sermonizing prof elicited 539.

Most emailed: Pipelines and electoral reform

Call us traditionalists — The Tyee loves email. That’s why we send for free a daily, weekly and national weekly edition of our stories to subscribers’ inboxes. Turns out our readers also like email. We can tell by how many use our forward-to-a-friend tool.

This year’s winner was Andrew Nikiforuk’s roundup of “bad policy decisions” made by Alberta leaders over the past decade producing a predictable oil price crisis that walloped the province in November.

Andrew snagged second place, too, with “Facts about Kinder Morgan Canadian Taxpayers Need to Know,” his detailed case (ignored by Justin Trudeau) for not bailing out the Trans Mountain pipeline builder.

The third and fifth most emailed Tyee stories were by Mitchell Anderson, and the topics, again, were Alberta’s longing to pipe more bitumen through B.C. His pieces were “Only Fantasies, Desperation and Wishful Thinking Keep Pipeline Plans Alive” and “Sorry Alberta, BC Will Not Pay for Your Bungling.”

Sandwiched in fourth? Andrew Seal’s guide to understanding the complexities of the electoral reform vote, a series paid for by some Tyee readers in honour of their commenting comrade, Merv Adey, after he passed away.

Most lingered over: Dave Barrett, orcas, military dollars, energy (oily and not), muddled Mounties

Which stories did Tyee readers, on average, spend the most time reading in 2018?

Top spot goes to Tom Hawthorn’s obituary for former BC NDP premier Dave Barrett, “The Man Who Changed the Province.”

Second, a first-person essay by Casey Brant: “Watching Whales Die: ‘First they enthralled me. Now they haunt me.’ Notes from a whale watching boat.”

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‘When I started whale watching in 2003 as a captain and naturalist it was fun and easy,’ wrote Casey Brant. But not anymore. Photo by Tom Cowan.

Third: Crawford Killian argued “Why Spending More on ‘Defence’ Is Foolish.”

Fourth: Bruce Livesey’s provocative question : “Is the Oil Industry Canada’s ‘Deep State’?”

Fifth: Andrew Nikiforuk’s counter-intuitive caution : “The Curse of Energy Efficiency.”

Sixth: “The RCMP Thought Solidarity Was a Communist Plot” say documents unearthed by Stanley Tromp.

Most printed: Electoral reform and pipeline legalities

Andrew Seal’s electoral reform series — all five parts — churned out of printers the most this year. His introductory guide topped the list.

The other big print-out winner was Will Horter’s rebuttal to Prime Minister Trudeau’s claim the “rule of law” supported his government’s Kinder Morgan pipeline approval. Months later, the Federal Court of Appeal would overturn that approval.

Social media faves: Bitumen, baklava, poverty and fire

Mitch Anderson’s firm no to “bungling” Alberta was read the most via social media.

Next up: Chris Cheung paused to talk to a man selling pastries on a Vancouver street, and his further investigations produced this hit: “The Mystery of the Baklava Man: Streets, sweets and Syria meet in the story of an elusive Vancouver vendor and his fight for human rights and democracy in the Levant.”

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Who is Baklava Man? Al Hosni is his name, discovered Chris Cheung and, to social media’s delight, Hosni’s story is amazing. Photo by Christopher Cheung.

Third was Crawford Killian’s declaration the Kinder Morgan pipeline was “DOA.”

Fourth: Seattle-based Hanna Brooks Olsen’s inventory of our oft suppressed psychological biases against people who are poor, reprinted from Medium.

Fifth was a (hot) blast from the past. Bill Tieleman’s 2017 column blaming past BC Liberal governments for severe forest fires resurfaced in the summer of 2018. We noticed the piece got a boost from some atypical American Tyee readers. Maybe they didn’t realize “Liberal” doesn’t mean quite the same thing in B.C. as in the U.S.?

The big hitters: Yep, that pipeline, ProRep... and a mystery man

Finally, which Tyee stories got the highest number of readers?

The top slot goes to Mitchell Anderson’s no holds barred assessment of Alberta’s premier in the face of oil industry pressure: “The Sad, Timid Failure of Rachel Notley.”

Andrew Seal’s previously mentioned guide to the B.C. referendum of electoral reform options comes in second.

In third place, it’s Mitchell Anderson again, informing Alberta he’s very sorry, but “B.C. Will Not Pay for Your Bungling.”

Then it’s Andrew Nikiforuk, again addressing the issue that clearly most grabbed Tyee readers this year, the Trans Mountain pipeline and whether Canada should be doubling down on the oilsands.

At number five: “The Mystery of the Baklava Man” by Chris Cheung. A tasty story to finish off the year’s list. See you in 2019!

Dear readers: Comments are closed over the holiday break until we return in 2019. Thanks for all the thoughtful comments this year!  [Tyee]

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