The Watershed Chronicle’s Greatest Hits

It’s been a little over a year since I began posting things to this site, and I thought now would be a good time to look back.  Using the handy little stat counter built into wordpress, I’ve made a list of the ten most read posts from the past year.  One thing you’ll notice is that they’re almost all about local publishing companies, with only one exception.  So, here they are, in reverse order, the top ten posts in the history of this blog:

10.  End of an Era-  May 2, 2010

One of the more recent posts on this list, End of an Era was about the closing of the Chesapeake Publishing printing facility in Elkton.  In this piece, I lament the loss of the only local printing plant in Cecil County and what that could mean for the future of our local paper, the Cecil Whig.  Even though this was four months ago and virtually all of the announced changes by Chesapeake have been made, it still stings a bit to see our more-than-century-and-a-half-year-old newspaper lose its local production.  Times change, I suppose, but not always for the better.

9.  Remembering My Friend Bob- Nov.19, 2009

This one inspired a handful of comments, and even a few photos emailed to me.  I wrote this the day I got the shocking news that my friend and former colleague Bob Liddell had passed away.  After sharing a few of my memories of Bob, I received several phone calls from mutual friends, good conversations about Bob and the time we knew him.  It even inspired a second piece, More Recollections of Bob, which included some comments sent to me about him.  All in all, it ended up as a pretty nice way to deal with the untimely death of a friend.

8.  A Bad Joke-  June 21, 2010

This is the most recent post on this list and one that I’ve referenced several times already.  It’s also climbing the list little by little everyday, even though it’s three months old at this point.  As anyone who reads this site regularly knows, this was my wrap-up rant about the company of the year award going to an unquestionably undeserving recipient.  I won’t rehash the details here, suffice it to say that this was an exceptionally popular subject.  So much so that another post on this topic checks in at number two on this list.

7.  He Rode In On a Pale Horse and His Name Was Death.  And He Carried an iSlate-  Jan. 5, 2010

This is the only post on this list that isn’t directly related to local publishing.  It’s a fairly non-descript review of the possible effects of the release of the then-unnamed Apple iPad.  At the time, I liked the name iSlate better, hence its use in the title.  It’s not even one of my better efforts.  So why so many hits, you ask?  It’s the name.  I’ve had more traffic come to this article with searches for “death” and “he rode in on a pale horse” than anything else.  People are apparently obsessed with death and, in particular, biblical references to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  In honor this piece being the most searched for of all my work, I watched the Clint Eastwood western Pale Rider the other day.  Now that’s what I call riding in on a pale horse.

6.  Department of Reader Response-  Nov.11, 2009

This is one of my personal favorites.  I received a typo-riddled comment from an annoyed reader after some criticism I had leveled at Nor’easter Magazine in the post that is coming up at number five.  Rather than simply ignore the comment, I chose to simultaneously respond logically in defense of the criticism of my criticism as well as ridicule the writer’s typos.  Maybe not the most mature way to respond, but it was fun.  And judging by the reaction I received from readers, a large number of them enjoyed it, too.  Especially the Sean Connery school of elocution crack; people just loved that one.  This also led to another post the next day, Calling a Skink a Skink, where I went after one particular typo.
The funny thing is that in all this criticising his typos, I made some myself.  Sure, I could change them now and no one would ever know, but I’m the kind of guy who will stand by my own hypocrisy.

5.  The Changing Face of Local Publishing-  Oct. 30, 2009

This piece is the one that inspired the rather nasty comment that led to number six on this list.  Funny thing is, I hadn’t really intended to make those criticisms in the first place, they just kind of came out as I was writing.  On the whole, this post was all about how the larger publishers had begun talking about local as a buzzword that would save their profit margins.  Ironically, at the same time, they were outsourcing work away from local pubs to save money.  My entire point was that if the legacy publishers were going to abdicate their local staffs, then new startups that really are local would spring up to fill that void, and they have in increasing numbers.  One other point I made, specifically about Nor’easter, was that the magazine’s change to a smaller print size could have negative results in addition to just saving money.  Well, Nor’easter is now off the market, and two of the main complaints I heard were that customer service suffered having to deal with production staff hundreds of miles away, and that the smaller publication size was wildly unpopular.  I hate to say I told you so.  Well, actually, that’s not true.  I love saying I told you so.

4.  I Got Canned!  A Farewell To The Mariner and Chesapeake Bay Boating-  March 21, 2010

It’s not every day you get to tell someone you worked for to shove it in front of, well, everyone in the world.  Last year, I was the editor of The Mariner until I was let go.  It was a sometimes fun, mostly frustrating experience that once again found me butting heads with management about how to make a magazine successful.  To my credit, by the way, in the six months since my departure, the mag has shown no appreciable growth, and, much like Nor’easter, may be on a corporate death watch without a serious uptick in advertising or interest.  Anyway, judging by the number of people who called or emailed me after this post was published telling me how “they laughed their ass off”, there must be a large number of ass-less people wandering around out there.  I have to say, despite getting the ax, this one was pretty satisfying.

3.  A Eulogy For Ira Black’s Nor’easter Magazine-  Dec.11, 2009

After Bob passed away, and Nor’easter made the changes talked about in number five on this list, I picked up a copy of the magazine, and it just seemed like the publication I remembered was no longer there, so I penned this farewell to the magazine that I had helped found.  Oddly, I ended up writing two more articles for Nor’easter before they went belly up in July, but it still wasn’t the same.  It really is true what they say, all good things come to an end, whether we want to believe they will or not.

2.  Wow, The Times Must Be Tougher Than I Thought.  Lowering the Bar For Company of the Year-  May 9, 2010

So this is the one that set off the interest in what qualifies a business to win a company of the year award.  Fresh off the news that the long-standing Elkton printing plant was being shut down, and the resulting layoffs that came with that decision, I received a tip that the company in question would be honored by the Chamber of Commerce as company of the year.  Honestly, I thought it was a joke at first.  It was and still is inexplicable to me how something like this comes to pass.  I mean, really?  There’s no one else who could have won?  After discovering that no one else was even nominated, along with the close involvement of an employee from the company in question in the process, it started to make sense, distasteful as that may be.  Bad economy or not, it’s just like old times in Cecil County.

1.  Manning the Helm For Cecil County’s New Weekly Newspaper-  Nov. 7, 2009

Coming in at number one with a bullet is this piece announcing the possible editor-ship of the then-unreleased Cecil Guardian weekly newspaper to Ira Black of Mariner and Nor’easter fame.  Of course, his position turned out to be short lived, amounting to a few months of irreverent editorials kicking off each issue, but it was an entertaining ride, if brief.  As for the Guardian, or what was originally supposed to be the Cecil Observer, headed by former Whig-staffer David Healy before a dispute over a non-compete agreement cost the paper his involvement and the name, it appears to be doing just fine.  Page and ad counts seem to be improving steadily, and the emergence of extra and special sections shows even more progress.  With or without Ira’s involvement, and the currently reeling Whig to compete against, the Guardian may be around for a while yet.

So, there they are, the ten most-read posts in the history of this blog.  Eventually, I intend to do a list of ten of my favorite pieces regardless of hit counts, but that may be a while yet.  After all, I’ve got about 200 posts to choose from.  Thanks for reading.


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