By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
If you ask those of us involved with BG Independent News, the biggest news of 2016 was that we got this enterprise started and weathered our first year. This has been a great venture that has both challenged and rewarded us, if not enriched us. We pride ourselves on writing the best stories about Bowling Green, its immediate surroundings and area arts and entertainment scene. We’ve been heartened by the fact that we’ve had close to 160,000 users and 600,000 page views since the website was launched in late January. For that Jan McLaughlin and I thank you, our readers. It’s been a great ride.
As we start a new year, we thought we’d go back and see just what stories drew the most traffic in the previous one. I decided on a top 30 of the more than 1,700 stories we’ve published. That includes the bylined stories that make up the heart of BG Independent News, but also Community Voices, Opinion, Obituaries and Newsbreak (though not the event listings that get lumped into What’s Happening in Your Community).
(See the list of links at the end of the story.)
The story that drew the most traffic was “The day the pizza died,” which is by neither of the principle writers. The rumors of Myles Pizza closing had been in the air for well over a year. When Chip Myles finally called it quits, I was headed out of town for a funeral, so Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel, from Zibbel Media and an accomplished writer, stepped in and wrote her elegy to the beloved local pizza place. While this may seem ironic that our top story was written by neither McLaughlin nor Dupont, I don’t see it that way. Zibbel Media, operated by John Roberts-Zibbel and Roberts-Zibbel, is as much responsible for launching and maintaining the BG Independent enterprise as McLaughlin and Dupont, and I’m happy to have this recognition of that contribution.
Some people were celebrating the holidays by pulling their last Myles pizza out of the freezer. The opening of Pizza Pub 516 in the location with a clear intent to update the place while maintaining much of the Myles character was also of interest, placing 18th on the list.
Roberts-Zibbel also wrote another top 30 story, “Sign of the times,” about a lone, masked, disgruntled protestor who camped out in front of the Bowling Green Police Station on a sizzling hot day last summer. She also had a hand in the story that drew the second most traffic, the obituary for Jordan Powell, a young man who died far too soon. His family had few resources, and though we weren’t running obituaries in May, we decided to post it. It was sad, yet gratifying, because it showed the value of the service we are providing.
Schools always draw interest, and that three of the top 10 stories are school related is not surprising. The third was clicked story was “BGHS accommodates transgender students,” followed at fifth by “Administration stands by high school soccer players right to take a knee.” Both stories touched on issues that roiled the nation as a whole this year. Yet also up there in eighth was one of those mundane issues that mean so much to families: “BG school calendar proposal—good and bad news.”
Myles wasn’t the only eatery to close. Jed’s closed its downtown BG restaurant, and while it didn’t draw the outpouring of love that Myles did, its place fourth on the list was further evidence that local readers care about where they eat, or want to eat. The prospect of an Applebee’s moving to town was the seventh most clicked story and the news that the restaurant chain had withdrawn its request for a variance was the 16th most clicked story. A fire knocked the Corner Grill out of operation in February, and the diner remained shuttered, though owner Larry Cain still plans to reopen. Also, nearby Howard’s Club H changed hands and new owners are dedicated to revitalizing it as a go-to venue for music, and Brathaus is planning to expand.
In the sixth slot we find one of those oddities, a Community Voices submission about the arrival of food trucks in Perrysburg.
The ninth story on the list was about a unusual string of tornadoes that threatened Bowling Green, but left it unscathed. We spent a long late afternoon and evening keeping up with warnings and watches that kept changing. In the end we were spared though a twister did touch down outside Pemberville.
Now maybe some readers are wondering, wasn’t there an election this year? There was, locally and nationally, but that drew surprisingly little interest. No member of a party ticket showed up in Bowling Green, and our coverage of visits by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to Toledo drew very little interest.
But the campaign does make it into the top 10 thanks to local singer Abby Paskvan who sang the National Anthem at the GOP convention in Cleveland. Showing that voters don’t always take their responsibilities seriously, we reported on Scooby Doo, Chief Wiggun and Professor Snape getting votes for Wood County Sheriff in the May Democratic primary.
As veteran reporters, it comes as no surprise to us that readers like a good oddball local story, like Amy Craft Ahrens, owner of For Keeps, chasing down a shoplifter who was apprehended with the help of police and the city prosecutor who just happened to be driving by. The police were on the wrong end of a story when some of their uniforms were stolen from a dry cleaners (and later recovered).
There were other more serious police issues. Bowling Green police ended up filing charges against a woman who claimed she was assaulted and taunted on election night. Another report of an assault on campus that was linked to the election was also proven to be false. The incidents were testament to a sense of unease many felt after Trump’s election.
A couple members of the BGSU football staff made unwanted news when they were involved in a brawl in a downtown bar, resulting in charges.
Mayor Dick Edwards and President Mary Ellen Mazey teamed up to try to encourage students to be more considerate neighbors. A report of “Nuisance parties on the upswing on East Side” was not what they had in mind.
Mazey and Edwards also tried to keep alive a tradition older than Myles Pizza, the convening of Buckeye Boys State on campus. In the end though the American Legion, sponsors of the civics education program, opted to move the event to Miami University. This came after several months of rumors and more than a year of behind the scenes negotiations.
Providing basic information is also essential as shown by the 13th story on the list from this July when local residents were asked to conserve power. It was a good sign that so many people plugged into the story, and indications were that residents heeded the request.
While some businesses closed, downtown gained some new tenants. The story about the opening of the Eden Boutique was 15th on the list. Not making the list but drawing a lot of traffic were stories about the opening of another boutique, Mode Elle and the opening of Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Retro in the former Mills Jewelry store front. The arrival of Art Depo Supply also attracted attention. And a change in ownership of the 40-year-old Calico, Sage and Thyme was also of interest to readers.
Plans for a rally by the Oath Keepers, which opened a shop in the Woodland Mall, drew far more mixed reviews as did a demonstration by open carry advocates on campus and downtown.
The good news was that a website named Bowling Green to its list of the top 10 best cities for families. That story was 21st on our list.
Some residents, though, felt a new LED display board placed in front of the police station was sending the wrong message about how the downtown should look, especially given its proximity to the city’s greenspace. The former site of the junior high was the focus of much talk, but actually didn’t rise to the top of most clicked stories.
The concern about a Nexus natural gas pipeline running near the city’s water treatment plant was also hotly debated with city council eventually refusing unanimously to grant the company an easement. Then city officials conceded they probably won’t be able to fight the company’s suit to use eminent domain to proceed with the project.
There was also much round around about roundabouts this year in the city. Other issues widely discussed that were followed were complete streets and how the city can better accommodate bicyclists and a solar project that ran into flak because of its hiring practices.
National stories like the murders in an Orlando night club and the standoff over another pipeline at Standing Rock, South Dakota prompted local residents to rally.
On the local election front a heated race for Ohio House of Representatives topped the local election news. The race between Republican Theresa Gavarone, who was appointed to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Tim Brown, and Democrat Kelly Wicks, took an early nasty turn when Republican operatives started a push poll in August. Tax charges were tossed back and forth as well. Gavarone ended up easily holding onto the seat, though the Bowling Green vote went for Wicks.
Candidates are already lining up to run for two at-large seats on city council. That’s just one of many stories we plan to cover. That includes many art stories that may not rack up the biggest numbers, but are often only covered here. We’ll continue to write about what we care about and what you need to be informed, regardless of popularity.
We’ll keep you posted.
Top 30 links
- The day the pizza died
- Jordan Powell
- BGHS accommodates transgender students
- Closing time for Jed’s but downtown still open for business
- Administration stands by high school soccer players’ right to take a knee
- Food trucks set to roll into Perrysburg for feast farm
- Applebee’s looking at location in BG
- BG school calendar proposal – good news and bad news
- BG spared from strange string of tornadoes
- Abby Paskvan booked to sing anthem at GOP convention
- BG shopowner catches shoplifter with help from strangers
- BG police say student assault report is bogus
- BG residents asked to conserve electricity Monday
- Mayor and Mazey ask BGSU students to behave
- Eden Boutique offers fashion paradise in downtown BG
- Applebee’s Pulls zoning variance request in BG
- BG police uniforms stolen from dry cleaners
- Pizza Pub 516 ready to cook up good times for diners at former Myles site
- Branch of extremist group plans summit in BG
- Scooby Doo, Chief Wiggum, Professor Snape get votes for Wood County sheriff
- BG named among top 10 best cities for families
- Sign sends wrong message about downtown BG
- Sign of the times
- Two BGSU football coaching staff cited for assault after bar fight
- City, BGSU regret loss of Buckeye Boys State
- Calico, Sage & Thyme turns over new leaf as founder retires, new owner steps in
- Nuisance parties on the upswing on east side
- BG unanimously rejects easement for pipeline
- BG headed for roundabouts at I-75 and Wooster
- Open carry walk planned in BG Saturday