COLUMBIA — From the first year of Southeastern Conference action to the 57th quadrennial presidential election, 2012 wasn't short on news in Columbia. Let's take a look back at this year's top headlines on ColumbiaMissourian.com.
Web analytics offer a lot of different ways to measure readership. We decided to focus our list on the individual articles most interesting to our local readers. These pages are sorted by unique visitors from Columbia; in other words, even if you look at an article multiple times from the same device, only one unique visit would be counted. While a laptop, a tablet and a smartphone would all be recorded separately, this measure provides the best way to track an article's reach.
(In case you'd like to take a look even further back, our 2011 top stories list profiled the story lines attracting the largest overall audience.)
Topics vary on a yearly basis, of course, as do the tone of the top articles. While somber headlines primarily composed 2012's top 10, they don't do so every year — cicadas dominated 2o11's top stories and sports took a firm grip on 2010's.
With that in mind, let's dig in. (Note: Numbers are updated as of Dec. 28.)
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1. Michael Dixon Jr.'s transfer
5,021 unique visitors from Columbia; 28,842 total views from overall audience
The Missouri basketball team announced Nov. 29 Dixon's intention to transfer from the university. Earlier in the week, unearthed police reports revealed that Dixon was accused of being involved in two separate sexual assaults — one in August and another in January 2010. Dixon, a senior and a projected starter, sat out Missouri's first six games of the season before the announcement.
2. 'A human wall' for Spc. Sterling Wyatt and his family
2,257 unique local views; 6,695 total views
Thousands of supporters lined the streets of downtown July 21 in honor of Spc. Sterling Wyatt, who died 10 days earlier in Afghanistan. Despite 90-plus-degree temperatures, people from all over Missouri attended the funeral of the 2009 graduate of Rock Bridge High School. Wyatt joined the Army in November 2010 and was deployed overseas in December 2011. The 21-year-old was due back in the United States in August 2012.
3. MU sophomore killed in head-on collision on I-70
2,031 unique local views; 4,924 total views
Emily Ferguson, 19, died Dec. 7 after colliding with another motorist on Interstate 70 near Kingdom City. A volleyball enthusiast, Ferguson had "a really big presence on the court" despite being one of the shorter players, her high school coach said. Above all, though, friends said they will miss Ferguson for her sense of humor. (Photo: Courtesy of www.kriewallphotgraphy.com)
4. MU freshman found dead in Kirkwood
1,877 unique local views; 10,686 total views
Carolyn Dolan, 19, was found at a family member's home April 29. This link is to the news story about her death. (See No. 8 for Dolan's life story.) (Photo: Courtesy of Dennis Shrewsbury)
5. Teen victim in fatal shooting was brother's 'other half'
1,862 unique local views; 3,604 total views
Bryan "Phatman" Rankin, 17, died April 7 from a gunshot wound after returning to a party. Family and friends remembered his life as full of generosity and compassion, left only to wonder why it was cut short. A 15-year-old was later arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder and armed criminal action.
6. Brookside burns, expected to fully open in the fall
1,768 unique local visitors; 5,630 total views
All available Columbia personnel, armed with enough water to fill three Olympic-sized swimming pools, battled an early-morning inferno that brought most of the nearly completed Brookside on College apartment complex to the ground May 27. The cause of the blaze was undetermined. About 40 percent of the units were ready by the start of the fall semester, while the remainder opened in mid-October.
7. 18-year-old found dead in Capen Park
1,617 unique local visitors; 5,324 total views
Priscilla Guzman died March 1. She was a 2011 graduate of Rock Bridge High School and a private first class in the Marine Corps. Described as "toughness personified," Guzman underwent two surgeries for soccer injuries in high school but nonetheless returned to the field. She had her fun, too — Guzman was known to squirt water guns at unsuspecting passersby in Rock Bridge's hallways.
8. Carolyn Dolan's life story
1,598 unique local visitors; 11,253 total views
This link is to a story written about Dolan's life. A freshman at MU, she excelled both on and off the field, but she had her weaknesses, too. "She loved nothing more than microwavable chicken fettuccine alfredo," her sister said.
9. Escaped steer runs through MU campus
1,599 unique local visitors; 4,582 total views
A 1,300-pound Angus steer was killed by campus police after escaping from the university slaughterhouse June 19. One person sustained a head injury trying to corral the animal. The chase lasted 90 minutes before ending in the backyard of Clara Pike, 94, who was eating breakfast at the time.
10. Teen killed in one-car accident on Route Z
1,580 unique local visitors; 2,890 total views
Kameron Gwin, 19, died Jan. 1. His death was Missouri's first reported traffic fatality in 2012. Gwin graduated from Hickman High School in 2010 and attended Moberly Area Community College, according to his obituary. His range of interests included working on cars and spending time with his dog, Daisy.
Bonus: Peace Park goes topless for equality
1,491 unique local visitors; 4,116 total views
GoTopless supporters celebrated Women's Equality Day by shedding clothes Aug. 26. The Las Vegas-based group has hosted rallies for five years, but it was the first such event in Columbia. The belief of the movement is that women should have the right to go topless, just as men do. The idea was originated by the prophet Raël, who believes that "extraterrestrials created the human race and that they will return once earth has become peaceful," according to a previous Missourian report. "Raëlians try to usher in that peace."
For comparison, here's another take on the list. These are 2012's top articles sorted by total views from our overall audience (rather than unique visitors in Columbia).
3. Carolyn Dolan remembered for charming, inspiring personality
4. MU student found dead in Kirkwood
5. SEC Road Trip: Auburn
8. Branson tornado Facebook page successful after storm
Data provided by Google Analytics. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.