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2010 headlines quirky, revealing

| December 28, 2010 8:00 PM

As we wrap up another 12 months of news, a review of online interest in national headlines reveals a couple of firsts.

Modern news organizations keep internal track of reader interest three ways: subscriptions, single copy sales, and online hits. In December or January many (including The Press) publish a list of their "top" stories, either based on reader interest (i.e., sales/hits) or the number of follow up stories and editors' news judgment. Market research services may supplement this information.

One such U.S.-based service - Global Language Monitor - surveyed more than 75,000 sources, using hits on social websites and worldwide news media, and found these to be 2010's top news stories:

1. South African World Cup - The South African World Cup towered over all other news stories. The first time a sports event took the No. 1 spot.

2. iPad - Again, another first to have a product launch rank so high.

3. Rise of China - Also a top story for the first decade of the century

4. Health Care Reform - The debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act continues to rank high.

5. Wikileaks - The story of revealed institutional secrets continues to hold reader interest.

Other major stories covered deadly earthquakes in Haiti, Chile (and their trapped miners), China, and Indonesia; the largest oil spill in history; and Iceland's volcanic eruption which disrupted global flight patterns, not to mention droopy economies. At home Tea Party stories generated regular political dissent headlines.

It wasn't all bad news. There were the Winter Olympics to lift overcast spirits, plus a few quirky stories, courtesy of Newsweek.com:

* NYC Terrier Mugged - Yup; he stole the coat off the dog and ran.

* Self-Proclaimed Vampire Brings out Seattle SWAT - Wearing a mask and brandishing a pipe bomb, he demanded someone's arm so he could eat.

* Topless Gardening - a 52-year-old Boulder woman just wouldn't quit; the landlord had to add "wear clothing outside" to tenant rules.

* Montana Woman Fends off Bear Attack with Zucchini - No, really.

* Man Caught Smuggling 18 Monkeys in Girdle - He was afraid the luggage X-ray at the Mexico City airport would hurt them.

And my favorite:

"Chihuahua Joins Japanese Police Force." His name is Momo. Bad guys, beware: it means peach.

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. E-mail sholehjo@hotmail.com

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