Originally created 12/31/06

Readers continually fix sites on breaking news stories



Bad news travels fast.

- American proverb

In 2006, breaking news appears to have been the most popular feature at The Chronicle's Web site - www.augustachronicle.com.

For the past few years I've asked my online colleagues for a monthly breakdown of what our online readers are clicking on, or "hitting," as they say. That list for 2006 looks to be stories that have some immediacy. Over the past 12 months, 10 of the most popular stories have been events posted to the Web site, usually in the morning.

I guess that makes sense. A growing number of readers are beginning to look to the Internet for information on what's happening right now. It might be curiosity, it might be something that will affect their commute home.

Regardless, here's the monthly list of the most viewed stories in 2006 with their headlines.

JANUARY: "4 confirmed dead in I-520 wreck." This was a morning update on a terrible accident with news on the number killed.

FEBRUARY: "Woman charged in Olive Road fatality." This took place only a few days later, and reported the deadly consequences of yet another accident at the Olive Road railroad overpass.

MARCH: "Deputy fired after 7-vehicle crash." Again, breaking news.

APRIL: Masters Tournament interest always dominates, but the top news story was "One dead in motorcycle pileup near Harlem."

MAY: "Avondale Mills plans shutdown." This was a breaking news posting on what became one of our region's most important stories of 2006.

JUNE: "Martinez man pleads guilty in bicyclist's death." Breaking news from the courtroom on a tragic and unusual death.

JULY: "Fatal wreck caused by driver's seizure." Again, breaking news.

AUGUST: The breaking news pattern is broken when an online solicitation to "Vote for top singer-songwriter" in The Chronicle's singer-songwriter contest turns out to be the most active story.

SEPTEMBER: "Teenager dies trying to cross highway." The pattern returns to breaking news.

OCTOBER: "Deputy injured responding to Broad Street shooting." The pattern continues.

NOVEMBER: "I-20 shooting leaves one dead, one hospitalized." ... And continues.

DECEMBER: "Brown widow locked out of her home by husband's associates." Through Dec. 28, the news of James Brown's passing was a strong story but was available on numerous national Web sites.

The breaking news aspect of problems with his estate was exclusive content and attracted the most attention on The Chronicle's Web site.