Cicadas lead list of Columbia's top stories in 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011 | 3:29 p.m. CST; updated 10:50 p.m. CST, Saturday, December 31, 2011
This composite photo shows the four most popular stories viewed at during 2011. Clockwise from top left are: cicadas, Ryan Ferguson, Missouri's move to the SEC and the Columbia Police Department's bomb squad investigation of a suspicious package.

COLUMBIA — At this time of year, many news organizations are sharing their editors' recaps of the biggest stories of 2011. 

The Associated Press has ranked the top Missouri stories of 2011. Time magazine annually compiles the top 10 of everything. Even Google put together a splashy "Zeitgeist 2011: Year in Review" video. wants to take a different angle by sharing what made big news to you this year. 

We use Google Analytics for most of the website traffic data we collect, and we track what's important both to our total audience and to Columbia readers, that is readers with IP addresses assigned specifically to Columbia.

On a day-to-day basis, we look at statistics such as page views, time on page and pages per visitor. We also pay attention to what search terms bring people to our site and which kinds of stories attract comments.

For this year-end compilation, we started by looking at the top 50 stories of the year. We then combined individual stories into overall topics, such as the topic of cicadas that tops both local and total readership and included multiple stories that showed up in the top 50 lists. Once combined, we then looked at the top 10 page views overall.

Entire readership

1. Cicadas (five stories)

Brood 19, the Great Southern Brood, of periodical cicadas emerged in central and northern Missouri, starting the noisy process of searching for mates. This particular brood emerges every 13 years, and it took a couple of weeks for the full onslaught to emerge. Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream fixed up a batch of cicada ice cream that was set to debut on a Thursday. When word got out in the community, it was promptly sold out the night before.

2. Ryan Ferguson (three stories)

A key witness in the Ryan Ferguson case recanted earlier testimony. Chuck Erickson said he alone killed Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. Erickson said his previous confession of beating Heitholt with a tire tool and Ferguson’s strangling Heitholt to death was a lie. Erickson now says Ferguson had no prior idea about what Erickson was going to do and tried to stop him.

3. Missouri’s move to the SEC (two stories)

A celebratory news conference was held Nov. 6 at the MU Student Center to officially announce Missouri’s move to the Southeastern Conference. There were appearances from Marching Mizzou, the Golden Girls and student athletes from nearly every sport. Missouri joined a couple previous rivals in the move to the SEC, but continuing the rivalry with Kansas is unknown.

4. Bomb squad responds to suspicious package at Columbia Police Department

When a Columbia man received a package addressed to his house but with a name written in Arabic, he took the package to the Columbia Police Department. The package was taken outside to Sixth Street between Walnut Street and Broadway, where the Mid-Missouri Bomb Squad examined it. After X-raying the package, the bomb squad removed the bottom of the box revealing household electronic equipment that was deemed to be harmless.

5. Astrological time shift causes some debate

Twitter bursts fed the flames of speculation about the addition of a 13th zodiac sign, Ophiuchus, which caused a lot of confusion. As it turns out, there are two types of astrology: tropical and sidereal. As a Western civilization, we use the tropical zodiac, which is defined by the seasons and doesn’t change. The Eastern sidereal zodiac, determined by constellations and other astronomical arrangements, is constantly shifting.

6. KU's Allen Fieldhouse has pregame down pat

The historic building, Allen Fieldhouse, on the Kansas campus roars into life on game days. Students pack their seats two hours before the game and participate in traditional pregame festivities including cheering on the team during warm up, singing along with the pep band and joining in the alma mater and the chant – Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

7. Marching Mizzou's new uniforms to arrive soon

Two years past the average life expectancy of a band uniform, the old, discolored, smelly Marching Mizzou uniforms were retired with their gold sash and cape in favor of a new, contemporary uniform. The new uniforms feature a Mizzou-gold “M” extending from shoulder to sleeve, black pants without a stripe and a plume of black feathers on a black hat. The new uniform does keep a traditional element from the old uniforms — the iconic MU Columns on the left sleeve.

8. PHOTO GALLERY: Day-by-day coverage of 2011 flood

The 175th Military Police Battalion from Columbia deployed to take charge of coordinating 400 volunteer soldiers from around the state in the flood relief efforts in southeast Missouri in April. Six straight days of rain in southern Missouri flooded rivers and topped levees which threatened residents in the areas of Sikeston and Poplar Bluff.

9. Kelsi Poe: The girl who fell at Quinton's builds an entirely new life

Kelsi Poe continues to recover after an accident in which she fell about 15 feet over a stair railing at Quinton’s Bar and Deli, a popular bar downtown. The accident left Poe with spine and head injuries, respiratory failure, a lacerated spleen, collapsed lung and lacerated toe. Since the accident in September 2010, Poe had to work to regain simple skills such as speaking, swallowing and walking. Her goals for the future include driving, living independently and playing softball.

10. Missouri, Florida look to get over the hump at Women's College World Series

Missouri and Florida faced each other in the Women’s College World Series. This was the fourth consecutive appearance for Florida, and Missouri was no stranger to the competition either. In the Tigers' last two appearances the team had gone 0-4.

Columbia readership

1. Cicadas (four stories)

2. Osama bin Laden's death (two stories)

3. Kelsi Poe: The girl who fell at Quinton’s builds an entirely new life

4. Snowpocalypse

5. Regency Trailer Park (two stories)

6. Missouri's search for a new men's basketball coach begins

7. Maps show Columbia Public Schools’ redistricting options

8. Student, professor assaulted at Missouri School of Journalism

9. Wild Brad chase: Tweets spark campuswide search for Pitt

10. UPDATE: Student arrested with connection to graffiti incident

Are there any stories that you're surprised didn't make the list? Let us know in the comments below.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.