It’s been a big year at MountainX.com, where we’ve added daily arts and news posts and a slew of multimedia features. Now it’s time to take stock and unveil which Web features our readers flocked to.
We’ve tallied up the page views, and ranked the most-viewed articles, reports, posts and comments on the site. Here’s the view from cyberspace:
Most-viewed news articles
Managing Editor Jon Elliston’s series Cruel Summer, which played out in print and online as a four-part series, was the year’s most-viewed news story.
The story, subtitled “The Attack on Camp Summerlane,” chronicled a frightening showdown at a Transylvania County summer camp, stoked by rumors and fear, in 1963.
The second most-viewed story, Multimedia Editor Jason Sandford’s “Brain Man,” reviewed the work of Dr. Michael Rosner, a neurosurgeon in Henderson County who treats patients experiencing symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia by removing bits of skull and brain, an approach that’s led to an extended battle between the doctor and the N.C. Medical Board over his license to practice.
The third most-viewed news story of 2008, “Twilight of the Giants,” was former Staff Writer Kent Priestley’s examination of the slow death of giant Eastern hemlock trees in the Cataloochee Valley. It’s a sad tale about the impact of an invasive insect and how a handful of arborists are trying to fight back.
Most viewed Arts & Entertainment articles
There’s nothing like an exercise fad to get people excited, it seems, and Staff Writer Alli Marshall’s story on niche fitness, “Let’s Get Physical,” tapped into that interest. Her review of fitness crazes, from pole dancing and yoga to jazzercise and the Wii Fit, was the most-viewed A&E story of the year.
A look back at Okeh Record’s historic recording sessions in Asheville, “Mountain Country,” ranked second. The article, also by Priestley, recalled the last week of August 1925, when representatives from the record company set up shop in the George Vanderbilt Hotel and recorded mountain music. The event stood as the first time “phonograph records” were ever made in the Carolinas, according to the story.
A story about a Charlotte couple’s guide to improving their marriage — by having sex every day for a year — ranked as the third most-viewed. Contributing Wwriter Anne Fitten Glenn told the story of Asheville native Charla Muller and how she came to write her book 365 Nights. The book was an immediate hit, drawing national and international attention. Despite the salacious set-up, the book’s author notes that her goal was to talk about building intimacy rather than detail sex acts.
Most-viewed news posts
The Xpress Web site is really a catch-all, including news stories and updates, columns and other assorted informational bits. The most-viewed news post for the year was Staff Writer David Forbes’ story about the legal troubles of the owner of the local eco-fashion business called The Oko Box. Leslie Richard wrote about being the target of a scam on her store’s blog and wound up being the target of a $20 million lawsuit.
Forbes’ reporting on a bar brawl in downtown Asheville ranked as the second top news post. In May, a manager and an employee at the Bier Garden were arrested on assault charges after fighting with an Alcohol Law Enforcement agent. The agent, David Miller, said he was trying to write tickets to employees and their friends for drinking after hours when the fight started.
Sandford’s story about the arrest of legendary mountain moonshiner Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton ranked third. Sutton got caught with thousands of gallons of untaxed whiskey and faces charges that could put him away for life. He pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced in January.
Most viewed A&E posts
Glenn, Xpress contributing writer and Edgy Mama columnist, had the top A&E post with a column about the health benefits of beer. The column noted Asheville’s inherent love of brew and recent scientific studies that show how moderate beer consumption can help beat Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis and heart disease. Hurrah!
The second most-viewed A&E post was one of Marshall’s weekly Book Report installments. This one came in February, and looked at The Double Bind by novelist Chris Bohjalian. It included an extensive Q&A with the writer.
The third most-viewed blog was a simple notice by Elliston about the opening of the Thirsty Monk, a new pub in downtown Asheville specializing in Belgian beers. The pub opened in January and has since expanded its space and offerings.
Comments and Forums
The Xpress has worked hard to create an online meeting place where readers can come together and talk thoughtfully, and politely, about most anything. Here’s a quick look at what’s hot there:
• Top article commenters: Xpress movie reviewer Ken Hanke with 1,567; travelah with 814; and Ralph Roberts with 769.
• Top creators of new Forum threads: Shanafelt with 87; Thomas38 with 54; and Bugg with 49.
• Forums thread with most replies: “Palin as McCain’s VP – smart gamble?” with 241 replies; “Why do the moderators allow certain posters such freedom?” with 232 replies; and “What song is stuck on your head today?” with 209 views.
• Most viewed Forums threads: “Six Word Story”; “What song is stuck on your head today?”; and “Why do the moderators allow certain posters such freedom?”
The Xpress made multimedia elements on the Web a priority in 2008. We’ve added to our online photo galleries and debuted The Xpress Files, an online library of government documents. We also started adding audio slideshows, recordings and videos.
Most viewed videos: Asheville Police Department bicycle patrol training 3, 6,714 views; Rick Jenkins on who vandalized a Buncombe GOP billboard, 6,415 views; and Asheville zombies protest Sarah Palin rally with 5,324 views.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor