The stories that didn't
Earlier this week, we wrapped up our annual lists of the Chattahoochee Valley's top stories.
Naturally, our rankings spark debate among readers. Why was the Kareem Lane trial ranked higher than budget cuts at Fort Benning? Why was Isaiah Crowell's arrest a bigger deal than Jarvis Jones' spectacular season? And how many stories can one newspaper write about whitewater rafting?
You can't argue that these were important stories in our community and throughout the state, but you can question how much individual readers actually cared about them.
Maybe that's why my favorite in the "Top 10" series is our list of online stories, which is ranked solely by how many times our audience members clicked on a story.
This list sparks a different kind of debate. For example, people watched our video of two grown men fighting at a Little League championship game more than a million times.
Undoubtedly, it was more popular than stories about Kareem Lane or Isaiah Crowell or even whitewater rafting. Nobody questioned that people cared about it, but some questioned whether it should have been a story in the first place.
We obviously thought so. And clearly, it touched a nerve with people. Which has me thinking about some of the stories that didn't make our year-end lists.
The Huffington Post made a big deal of our Little League fight story, but it also made a big deal of our story about Noel Morgan, the 92-year-old charged in connection with the stabbing death of his 90-year-old wife, Annie. That was memorable, for sure.
So was the story about Edward Pascucci, the former Columbus Police officer who told investigators that he robbed a local bank because he had severe health and financial problems and needed the medical care and the roof over his head that he'd get in federal prison.
Then there's the woman who allegedly set fire to a house with her three children inside. According to police, her boyfriend raced inside the burning building and saved the children, but because he had an outstanding arrest warrant against him he arranged for a neighbor to take credit for the heroic action. The boyfriend and the neighbor faced charges, in addition to the mother.
And speaking of the mistreatment of children, don't forget about the couple that left their 6- and 8-year-old children sleeping at home unattended so they could have a night out at a local sports bar.
These stories weren't our top stories of the year, and probably shouldn't have been. But they were all examples of what Thoreau called "lives of quiet desperation."
Maybe they teach us about the struggle of being human and the consequences of our actions. Or maybe they just make us -- the average, decent people who don't get in the news -- feel better about ourselves.
One thing's for sure: In 2013, there will be more stories where those came from.
Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org