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What stories caught your eye most in 2012?
Figuring out just what people are reading has always been a bit of inexact science for a free community newspaper.
It's always been a melange of reader feedback through phone calls and letters, combined with the buzz we hear in the community.
But finding out what our online readers are clicking on is another matter entirely.
At our website, we know exactly what stories you news hounds are gravitating toward.
Here are cowichannewsleader.com's most-read stories of 2012:
10) It's always going to attract attention when a transit bus is involved in an accident. Even more so when the cause is apparently an armchair that had fallen on the highway. Interest was high enough to put this story into the number ten slot on our list.
9) One of the biggest — if not the biggest — items on Cowichan's annual event calendar is Sunfest. But the normally high level of interest in the show ratcheted up a few notches this year with the announcement country superstar Alan Jackson would headline Sunfest 2013.
8) We're still waiting for the report from Saanich police investigating a crash between an RCMP cruiser and a sedan that put a Cowichan woman in hospital. If the amount of interest in the story on our website was any indication, our readers are as well.
7) Despite what you may think, people are interested in good news. An example is this story. We may think of the Cowichan sweater as an international icon, but when the federal government made it official, people were happy to start spreading the news.
6) Despite the above, few would be surprised to discover tragedies frequently become candidates for this list. That is especially true when the incident occurs in a very public location, like the August collision between a cyclist and truck, and only sketchy information is available. In this incident Francisco Ramirez later died from his injuries.
5) Another tragedy that had a lot of people logging on was the early-morning April hit-and-run on Boys Road that claimed the life of Duncan teen Daniel Hopkins.
4) The best example of how readers can surprise you can be found here on our list. The tale of Marlie Kelsey's trip to a bear centre in Minnesota was considered pretty routine as it passed through the newsroom. Little did we know of the huge international online community that follows the centre. That community pushed the story to slot number four.
3) At least one of the readers commenting on the story Students celebrate back to school with drunken piss-up figured it wasn't a story worth reporting. Shawnigan RCMP disagreed, as did readers — who made it the third most-read story of 2012.
2) Few would dispute the murder of Cowichan teen Tyeshia Jones was the story that gripped Cowichan the most in 2011. The arrest of a suspect in that crime was the second most-read story on cowichannewsleader.com in 2012. William Elliott, 24, was not only charged with the first-degree murder of Jones, but also with that of Duncan women Karrie Ann Stone, who was killed in July 2010.
1) The top-ranked story — by a considerable margin — was also perhaps the year's worst tragedy. The Oct. 14 crash that killed three Nanaimo residents sparked a flood of traffic to our website as well as considerable commentary from people expressing their horror and sympathy, and demanding concrete medians be put in place to eliminate similar tragedies.