Some news services keep track of stats in real time, flashing page views and other story performance metrics on newsroom screens, spurring reporters on as if they were day traders squeezing value from their investments.
While we understand the need to broadening your reach — if a tree falls in the forest and all — we also don’t mistake pageviews for impact. Reaching the right people who can act upon a story is often more important than the broadest number, and sometimes chasing clicks means that you forget to pursue stories that really matter.
Our ethos as a publication is to show how Atlanta is connected to the world. News tracks change, and the change we see often reflects the growth taking place in before our eyes. In short, we often have a positive bent as we track investment successes, especially in a booming city like the Atlanta of this moment. We’re known by some as offering refreshingly benign content in an era of controversy-charged clickbait and lackluster business coverage by major outlets.
That was reflected in our top 17 of 2017, with stories on a Korean auto supplier and Japanese manufacturer Rinnai’s $69 million factory commitment sneaking onto the list along with bigger stories checking in on one of its most established foreign investors, Kubota, and a newer kid on the block: Sentury Tire, the Chinese firm planning a half-billion-dollar plant in LaGrange.
But this year more than others, our top stories reflected the simmering angst about globalization, which we found ourselves reacting to more often in the first year of President Donald Trump’s administration. These are the hills and valleys that keep the world from being truly flat, and to be truly impartial, we have to show this side of things as well.
The top story of the year was actually an update by our sponsor, Fragomen, aiming to help companies deal with the skilled-immigration backlog that Trump’s policies are starting to create.
Delta’s CEO said he’d fly over Trump’s Mexico border wall, Atlanta’s Suniva played both sides of a solar trade war, and Canada’s outgoing consul general warned Georgia early in the year against protectionism as NAFTA talks heated up. Later in the year, 85 Korean tourists were turned away at the Atlanta airport with little explanation, perhaps victims of souring ties with South Korea, Trump’s harder line on immigration enforcement, or both.
Flights keeping the world connected, however, were also a steady source of interest: A quick hit on Qatar Airways’ flights staying operational amid a diplomatic crisis was our fifth most popular story, followed by an exploration of Atlanta’s bid to gain a new nonstop flight to India.
Encouragingly as well, education and culture continued to be important topics. In less than a month up on the site, a story on the second year of the Atlanta Christkindl Market was once again near the top of the heap, this year landing at No. 3. Looks at a new Japanese-English charter school, how an Emory professor took on Holocaust deniers and a Georgia Tech global intern’s journey to Nepal were also well-received.
If 2016 was the year that proved we need to stick around to provide a vocal counterbalance to the growing negative tide of rhetoric around globalization, 2017’s top stories showed why: This mix of content would be hard-pressed to find the light of day on most news sites. For us, it’s another day at the office. Stay tuned for more throughout 2018.