It's the time of year when news organizations start to look back and list their top stories of the year. These are useful pieces, because they allow us to put together something with a minimum of work, then get on out the door to enjoy the holidays.
I've been doing things a bit differently on my blog the past several years. Everyone knows what the big news stories were. So I've made it a practice to list my favorite stories, or, I guess to be more accurate, the stories I was most satisfied with, or the ones that were the most rewarding to do. Over the course of a couple of days here, I'll give you my list, with reasons why.
This column will contain a few special categories. A second will count down my ten favorites. (See, I told you we milk these things for all they're worth!) Thanks for reading.
MOST READ: My most-read story of the year wasn't even a sports story. It had to do with my career change. When I left the newspaper to go to TV, I felt like I owed people an explanation. The column I wrote about why I left was mentioned in journalism blogs and in several larger publications, and I think the novelty of it gave it legs it wouldn't have otherwise had. I still see people who will tell me, "I really miss your column," and it's clear they haven't made the move online. The sentiment is nonetheless appreciated. My dad spent 30 years having people ask him, "When are you going to go back on television?"Read it here.
MOST RECOMMENDED: Because it tapped into hysteria going on in Arkansas and hype about Bobby Petrino at multiple SEC locations, I don't think I wrote a story this year that was "recommended" via social media more than one I wrote about the challenge of picking up the pieces when he leaves. It gave, as best I could, some insight into what made his tenure at U of L so effective -- and so hard to follow. Read it here.
GOODBYES: You can't call these columns "favorites," but they are, I think, among the important things one is called upon to write over the course of the year. There were three giants I tried to eulogize in print this year, two local and one national. And there was an absolute tragedy.
-- Owsley Brown Frazier was remembered by everyone as a larger-than-life person whose generosity in this community never will be forgotten. My effort was to show him just a bit more as a person, to share his passion for sports, and to give him a bit of motion, to help people remember him as a young man, not just the patriarch that he came to be.Read it here. -- I felt very strongly that someone in the local media needed to go to some lengths to talk about the mark Jim Spalding made at Bellarmine University. Among my first columns at WDRB was a remembrance of the longtime Bellarmine athletic director. I'd never have been able to write a column of this length in the newspaper, though the length itself wasn't overwhelming. Still, Spalding deserved it, and more. Read it here.
-- When Andy Griffith died, I couldn't resist writing about what The Andy Griffith Show had meant to me and my family.Read it here.
-- And finally, when the school shootings in Connecticut took place, it was one of those events that affected all of us in such a way that we really couldn't sit still. I wrote a piece about it on my personal blog here. It wasn't my intention to post it to a wider audience for WDRB.com, but the reception was positive and assistant news director Jennifer Keeney said she thought it should be used on the station's web site. One problem with media is that many of the local commentary voices are gone. It's the type of thing I would've done as a metro columnist -- if those existed in this city anymore. Instead, I noticed that guys like Mike Lopresti -- a sports columnist at USA Today -- were some of the ones weighing in to give the events perspective in print. Mike did a great piece, and his kind of sparked me to put down these words late one night. Read it here.
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL: It wasn't particularly well written, but when I had the good fortune of having wireless access on a redeye flight back from Phoenix after U of L earned a trip to the Final Four, the response surprised me. What we think of as good writing in the media -- traditional, well-phrased, well-reasoned prose -- isn't necessarily what the public responds to anymore. This piece was scattershot and stream-of-consciousness, but a certain segment of readers would rather have that raw, unfiltered take. It was a bit of an eye-opener for me. Thoughts from the Infraredeye, read it here.
CORRECTION: I wrote what I felt like was a well-reasoned piece for The Courier-Journal after the death of Joe Paterno, nothing that his role in the Jerry Sandusky trial was worth mentioning in the first sentence, but not at the beginning of the first sentence summing up his life. Then the report of former FBI director Louis Freeh came out. Many of us were scrambling to sharpen our tones of Paterno after that, and I was no exception. The piece I wrote for WDRB showed an altered perspective of the coach. Read it here.
UNDER THE RADAR: The one story I wrote that I thought probably got lost in the shuffle was a piece I wrote for a 40-page commemorative section on the University of Kentucky's basketball championship. Published by The Courier-Journal just days after the title game, there was good work throughout that publication. But it was printed on newsprint -- unlike the traditional actual books the C-J had published after UK's more recent titles -- and was competing with many other championship speciality publications. Anyway, I wrote the lead-off story for that publication, which attempted to sum up the entire season, one of the more remarkable seasons in UK's storied basketball history. In case you missed it, that story is here.