In the past two editions, we've reviewed a few of the biggest stories of 2012 -- in terms of the number of people they affect, the amount of money involved, whether the story drew a lot of interest, etc...
But in surveying the top stories at www.the-news-leader.com, I got a quite different list. What's "important," it seems, can vary quite widely.
By far, the top local story, with more than 10 times the number of readers than any other story on the website last year, was a brief about a Kent woman who area police were advised to be on the look out for following an apparent domestic problem. Macedonia police located her, and found she had been driving her car naked.
I guess the lesson here is you're bound to get massive interest if the word "naked" is in the headline.
Surprisingly, our story on Northfield Village Mayor Jesse Nehez' firing of former Fire Chief Gary Vojtush in December got more hits than November's story about the defeat of the Nordonia Hills City Schools' 3-mill operating levy. Did the fate of the village's fire chief draw more interest because the levy's defeat was a foregone conclusion?
A story from back in July, on the village police department's new logo and police cruiser color scheme, ranked fourth. Perhaps the fact that the department had entered the design updates into a national contest drew wider interest than would be expected if it were just another local story.
Fifth on the list was our report on Nordonia High School's earning a place as one of the top 100 high schools in the state. A few area schools scored higher and some didn't make the list. It's not surprising that people would be interested in such recognition.
The sixth-ranked story was on former Sagamore Hills Trustee Jim Hunt, who was found dead at his home in May. In addition to serving as Trustee, Hunt was a retired teacher, property owner and well-known member of the community.
Seventh was a story on the FirstMerit Bank robbery in August. That was one story I had phone calls about as it was happening. Apparently, the sight of policemen scouring the neighborhood in the middle of the day gets people eager to call the newspaper, then read "their" story.
The perpetrator, a 25-year-old Stow resident, was later sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Last month's story on a water line break at Walmart made the list, which is also understandable, as lots of people shop there and the store was forced to close for a couple of days.
And then there was the bear who made its way through town. Since park officials in Twinsburg, Summit County and the state think it may be overwintering in the Liberty Park area in Twinsburg, I'd like to christen it "Wilcox," after our neighboring town's founding twin brothers. We'll see if it makes it's way back to town this spring.
Surprisingly, the 10th most-read local story wasn't even written last year, but was available for view as it has been archived online for more than five years. The story described Brandywine/Boston Mills Ski Resort's purchase of the former Dover Lake Water Park property back in 2007. Adjacent to Brandywine, the water park closed without fanfare in 2006, and we could obtain no explanation from its former owner.
However, it seems the name Dover Lake lives on in Cyberspace -- at least among those interested in playing outdoors in the snow, as peak interest in the archived story coincided with Brandywine's ski season.
There were other online stories that garnered more interest than some. They include opening day at the Aldi's market in Macedonia last January, visits to nearby towns by presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, a story on the new head coach for Nordonia football and a gathering of Sikhs at Longwood Park in Macedonia last June for a sports tournament.
Perhaps the biggest story of the year, Northfield Park's partnership with Hard Rock International, finished out of the top 10, but in the middle of the pack of other stories. After many years of hearing about plans for a casino -- now "racino" -- at the race track, did people see it as just another casino story?
At the newspaper, we rely on our best judgement when deciding what stories we should cover, how much depth we need to go into when writing about them, where to place them in the newspaper and what else we need to provide good information to our readers.
And that extends to our news coverage as it is presented on the Internet. Our website, www.the-news-leader.com, was recently upgraded to reflect changing technology and techniques of providing news online.
But one thing remains the same: We value feedback from our readers. Tracking readership of our online stories is just one method.
You're welcome to email us, comment on our online stories, post your opinion on our website, or post comments on Facebook and Twitter.
Or you can call. Tell me what you think, or tip me off about something you think is important for others to know. You'll have my undivided attention.