I'm sometimes abused in the comment threads for the things I choose to write about—the endless policy wonkery, the relentless fisking of the Seattle Times editorial board, and other sometimes boring stuff like that. It's not that I'm unaware that most people aren't interested in the intricate details of, say, property tax levy equalization. It's just that I think these things are important, and so I use what platform I have to help bring awareness to the issues I choose. Sometimes my priorities are wrong, and sometimes I over-obsess. But I never really worry too much about what my audience wants.
But if I did fret about pleasing readers, I guess I'd mostly write about death and the weather, at least judging from the top 10 most-read stories in the Seattle Times this year:
- Seattle shootings: day of horror, grief in a shaken city (Cafe Racer shootings)
- Four dead in avalanches at Stevens and Snoqualmie passes
- Microsoft gets a new logo for the first time since 1987
- Massive manhunt after ranger slain at Rainier
- Suspect in ranger’s slaying found dead in creek
- Longtime TV anchorwoman Kathi Goertzen dies after battle with tumors
- Signing day live thread / Husky Football Blog
- Storm looms, with up to 14 inches of snow Wednesday
- Josh Powell kills 2 young sons in ‘an act of evil,’ authorities say
- Experts were off, but Friday’s forecast: rain, high of 47 — really
That's six stories about death, two about the weather, one about sports, and one about Microsoft's new logo. Those were the top ten stories in our state's paper of record. During a presidential election year.
No surprises. Had somebody been fucked to death by horse during a snow storm, that would have surely made the top of the list. It's not hard to figure out what sells. If I were paid by the comment, I suppose I could make a decent living writing about nothing but guns and vaccines. And if the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, I can guarantee you that story makes 2013's top ten list.
It's one of those interesting paradoxes about the news business. People complain when KING-5 cancels public affairs programming like Up Front with Robert Mak, and yet the only news they're really interested in tuning in for are stories about mayhem, tragedy, scandal, sports, and the weather. (And Microsoft's new logo, apparently. Go figure.)
So yeah, we're getting the news media we're asking for.