We're in the closing hours of 2019, so it's a good time to take stock, and look back on the posts that blew the doors off this blog during the year. It's been a good year — after suffering a decline over the last couple of years, I seem to have found my blogging mojo again, and my traffic has been dominated by recent posts, rather than some of the more evergreen archive posts (although the iPad/bath post still performs…).
It's probably not a coincidence that the resurgence in this blog has come along with a renewed focus on what we're now calling engaged journalism or audience engagement. It's been my focus for a decade and a half in my working life now, well before the current terms were actually coined. And I intend to refine that focus ever-further in the new year. Handing over some of the "public notebook" aspects of this blog to my micro.blog account has freed me up to dive deeper on journalism-related issues here. And it's interesting to see both that it has clearly worked — and what really resonated with you lot.
I'll be honest: I would have predicted most of these, but a few are genuine surprises — including the one at number 10.
Here we go, in reverse order:
10. Filtering my pocket gimbal
Video has become an increasingly important part of my work and training, not that it's been well-reflected on this blog (yet). But one of my go-to tools over the last year has been the Osmo Pocket, a really handy and verstile little video camera. I was offered the chance to review some filters for it — and the resulting post has done very nicely from search traffic.
9. Mock the Zuck
I try not to be as snarky on here as I used to be, but Mr Zuckerberg and his fatuous public statements are just too tempting a target. And, let'd be fair, it's the very definition of punching up. He can take it. His site is younger than this one, and yet has made him possibly the most powerful man in the world…
8. For members get Ghost
This one caught me on the hop. I wasn't sure there was still an appetite for CMS geekery on the web, but it turns out that there is — especially when it comes to audience engagement. I spoke to John, the co-founder of Ghost, about the new iteration of the product — and have started intergrating those features here. If you're reading this post in an email, for example, it's because of the new functionality that Ghost 3.0 enabled — and I intend to roll more of it out through the coming year.
7. Never insult Corbyn Twitter
Ah, the one post from this year I almost regret. I made a fairly anodyne post about one of the Corbyn-centric Twitter accounts that appeared to be indulging in wholesale blocking of journalists, and am still dealing with occasional drive-by attacks for the post months afterwards.
Luckily, the growing online toxicity is something I've largely experienced as an observer — but this actually brought me into the swamp.
6. Forever hunting business models
Another surprise - this liveblogged post from a news:rewired event earlier in the year has done very nicely, and still periodically gets shared around. Symptomatic, I suspect, of how much work is still to be done on business models that will sustain journalism.
5. Momo No No
This post was written in deep irritation. My daughters' school had just sent round a warning about this viral fake, thus helping prolong its existence. We're still failing basic fact checking as a culture, and seeing various bodies make serious warnings about a fairly obvious hoax was one of the major face-palm moments of the year.
4. Telling the story of the climate crisis
The final surprise in the list. Another liveblogged post, this time from one of the European Journalism Centre's News Impact Summit in Birmingham. This round-up of three different formats used to tell vital climate crisis stories was clearly inspiring enough to be shared, shared and shared again.
One of my 2020 resolutions is to attend more events like this, especially if the News Impact series restarts.
3. Carole's Cambridge Analytica moment
Who would have thought that giving a little context and gloss to a video would prove so popular? Certainly not me! And yet, this post — which is nothing more than that — continues to perform well. Another lesson learnt.
2. Predicting journalism in 2019
This takes us right back to early on in the year, and Nic Newman'a annual set of predictions about the year ahead for the Reuters Institute. My analysis of the key points seemed to be useful, and spread far and wide.
1. Goodbye, Piers
Astonishingly, the most popular post on my blog this year was only published just over a week ago. My former collegue Piers Jones passed away earlier this month, and it's a mark of the esteem he was help in at the various places he worked — RBI, The Guardian, Amazon and the Natural History Museum — that my small tribute to him has gone viral in that time.
If we can take any lesson from this, it's that we should take the time to celebrate the talented and the innovators around us while they're still with us — especially when they're lovely people, like Piers was.
I'm going to try to act on that in the coming year.
Thanks for reading, folks, wether you've been following this blog for 16 years, or 16 days. Even after nearly two decades of blogging, it still gives me immense pleasure to see people finding something useful in what I choose to write about.
I'm looking forward to trying to keep you enteretained and informed through 2020, too. Happy New Year to you all.
And thank you.