A good magician never reveals his secrets, it’s said, but I’ve never agreed with that. I love learning how they saw a woman in half, because it requires such cleverness and skill on the part of the performer and the assistant. Sometimes I skip to the end of a mystery book to find out who did it, because then I can see how the writer skilfully dropped hints and clues as to the identity of the murderer. Pulling back the green curtain to see the giant wizard head is being operated by an ordinary dude can be a lot of fun.
So let me pull back the curtain a little bit for you, readers of the Globe.
Being a part of a newsroom means continuously deciding what you’re going to cover, balancing the necessary, the dramatic and the fun stuff like you would balance a nutritious meal. Your diet shouldn’t consist of cake, oreos and candy, and your news diet probably shouldn’t be made entirely of funny stories about pets.
Pet stories are great, but we also need to cover meetings of the Worthington City Council, the Nobles County Board, the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed, and others, because these groups make decisions about the community that affect a lot of people.
Sometimes those stories aren’t exciting, and sometimes very few of our online subscribers read them. We know that for a fact, because we use analytics tools to track how many pageviews our stories get, how long people view our stories and a few other numbers.
“If it bleeds, it leads,” is a common saying in news, meaning that if a story features violence, death or some other form of mayhem, it should be put in a prominent place because a lot of people will read it. Crime is a very popular subject for our readers, for example, but it’s not just crime.
Our top story since I came here in August was Julie Buntjer’s riveting story about the farmer who found an injured hunter in a field while he was combining corn south of Worthington. It had more than 12,000 pageviews, and people spent more than a minute reading the story, on average. (It doesn’t sound like much, but think of it as if you were holding your breath — a minute is a long time online.)
Fortunately, the farmer called for help and the hunter received medical attention.
After that I thought it would be a good idea to write a story about hunting safety, because while it was super great to have 12,000 pageviews on the story, hunting accidents are not great, and we don’t want people to get hurt.
The story on hunting accidents has had, to date, 65 pageviews.
I admit I expected it to do a little better than that, but I did know the hunting safety story did not bleed and it would not lead the top story list for the week. But maybe it did some good nonetheless. Maybe it prevented a couple of people from falling out of their deer stands (which is actually the most common cause of injury to hunters).
In the interests of being thorough in pulling back the curtain, though, I should also tell you that not everything that leads bleeds. While my story about Lakefield’s Hi-Lo supper club getting new owners and a cool 1950s-era update did not reach the heights of 12,000 pageviews, it clocked in at 6,801, which still puts it in the top five.
The Hi-Lo is a mainstay in Lakefield and the surrounding area, and many people have fond memories of the place. Both the former owners and the new owners are well-known in the community and people want to know what’s next.
Just because it bleeds does not mean it leads. Readers like positive stories too, and they do care about people.
Our readers want to know who found the King Turkey Day Medallion and where it was hidden. They want to know what pickleball is and who the homecoming royalty are. They want to know about the Windom couple who saved a man’s life, and speaking of pulling back the curtains, they’re super excited about Worthington getting a movie theater again.
A lead story doesn’t always have to bleed. Sometimes it can just make you smile.