2009: The Top Ten Posts of the Year

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

And so 2009 prepares its exit, and what an interesting year it has been. I’d be hard-pressed to describe it as a good year, but at least it wasn’t as bad as 2008, by virtue of not having something really traumatic happen. But a year that has seen titles close, many colleagues find themselves redundant and the whole industry adopt a siege mentality is not something that could be described as “good”.

That said, conversely, it has been one of the most satisfying of my working life, as I’ve been heavily involved in a much more wholesale effort to retrain people within RBI for the new era of publishing, and more directly involved with allowing some titles to set their strategy for the recession and beyond. And it is satisfying to be in a company that didn’t stick its head in the sand as to the changes that were coming.

More than that, though, this is the year that the changes moved from “coming” to “here”. Things that I, and many bloggers like me, have been predicting for several years are starting to come true. Social publishing and use of social media is a significant part of our business now, and it is deeply impacting all forms of media. Being right, even in horrible times, can be surprisingly satisfying. Just call me “Cassandra“. 🙂

But really, the big issues of the year can best be captured by looking at the posts that were most popular this year…

My Most Popular Posts of 2009

1. NUJ: “effin’ blogs

The post that kicked off a blog storm. I post something that I saw in my referrer logs, and within a week The Guardian are talking to me about it, people are questioning my professionalism, and trying to pull the conversation into closed mailing lists where they can (and did) insult me personally without public view and accountability. I came very, very close to leaving the union over this.

2. Dean Street Fire: Most Recorded Yet?

I republished a YouTube video of the fire, and sat happily near the top of Google searches for “Dean Street Fire”. I linked through to some other coverage. The traffic just kept coming.

3.The Day Twitter Destroyed a Gagging Order**

A quick summary of the Trafigura incident with links to full coverage and details elsewhere. Much-tweeted.

4. NUJ: Stil Not “Getting” Social Media

The post that led to the “effin’ blogs” incident – in which I register my disgust with the way people within the NUJ responded to a colleague’s post.

5. The Content Paywall Ostriches

One of the first of a series of posts where I picked at the shallowness of the debate around content paywalls that dominated journalism blogging towards the end of 2009. Not Tweeted much, but linked to a great deal.

6. This Is A Bad Time To Be A Journalist If…

I’m not a great one for “list blogging” despite all the reputed traffic benefits of it. This one just begged to be written, though, and had a “zombie” life when, several weeks after it was first posted, a whole new bunch of people picked up on it and started tweeting it.

7. We Never Sold Journalism

An earlier blast in the paywall discussion, in which I make my first attack on the elephants in the room in the debate. Linked to by The Telegraph, which helped the traffic quite a bit…

8. The WordPress Attack, Competition and Blogging innovation

My only post about new publishing tech that hit the top 10. My disquiet about the dominance of WordPress in blogging software feels much the same as my worries about Windows in the late 90s. I draw that analogy here, which, rather gratifyingly, kicked off several discussions amongst coders about alternatives and ways of developing their own platforms.

9. The Times versus Nightjack: Destroying Journalists’ Reputation

A post triggered by an e-mail from an old student magazine colleague, who asked me what I thought of this situation (a blogger being “outed” by a national newspaper). Pretty disgusted, was the answer. Lots of people seemed to agree.

10. What Publishers Need To Understand

Another “oh, for goodness’ sake” post from the end of the year. And it’s just quoting a comment on another article. Linking FTW.


  1. Twitter matters. In the latter half of the year, Twitter was the biggest single driver of traffic to my most popular posts. If people start retweeting you, the impact on your page views can be staggering.
  2. Say something new. If there’s a big debate going on, look for the things you’re thinking, but you can’t find anyone else saying. Or, instead, things that move the thought process beyond the immediate reaction to an event.  An original and insightful contribution to the debate will work wonders.
  3. User content is popular. Two of the posts in the top ten are me pointing to something really good someone else has created elsewhere, which deserved to have attention drawn to it. This is aggregation at its best. Many of the other posts include an element of aggregation. Link. Link. Link. And then – link some more.
  4. People want explanation. There is a big market for posts that explain a situation and link through to more detail. Journalists are pretty good at reporting on things as they happen, but sometimes we need to sit back and create a quick summary for people new to the events.
  5. Debating in open spaces beats debating in closed spaces. It keeps people honest.

For interest, here’s last year’s Top 10 posts.

Have a great Hogmanay, and see you in 2010!


Adam Tinworth Twitter

Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.