2018 Worst Article
How about a November 1500 word front-page story (one of the longest local articles of the year) about a Republican state legislator (Riley Moore) from the eastern panhandle who lost his reelection bid? Readers might wonder how this is news for anyone living in West Virginia's northern panhandle? It isn't, but Ogden Newspapers think that it should be -- because the defeated candidate may run for state treasurer in 2020, it takes up lots of space, and perhaps most importantly, the losing candidate is Senator Shelley Moore Capito's nephew. To that end, Ogden state reporter Steven Allen Adams, wrote a long front page article which reads like a Moore PR release. A sample:
Yet, much like his famous grandfather [Arch Moore] who came back after several political defeats and even fought his way through a near-death experience fighting the Germans in World War II, Moore isn’t ready to give up on making West Virginia a better place.
(That's quite a comparison!)
Missing among all the kind words for the losing candidate is any balance. For instance, Adams ignores Moore's connection to a state dark-money PAC (1863 PAC) and his previous employment at a Paul Manafort-linked lobbying group that is now under investigation for its work in the Ukraine.
2018 Worst Editorial
The Wheeling “newspapers,” with one exception, completely ignored Representative David McKinley’s opponent (Kendra Fershee) from the May primary to election day. (My hunch is that they didn't want to destroy the illusion that McKinley was running unopposed.) But then shortly after the November election, the News-Register ran an editorial, "McKinley Correct About Health Care," that was primarily an attack upon her and her advocacy of Medicare-for-all. (Note -- editorial is still not online.) Not content to simply criticize Fershee's position on an issue supported by a majority of Americans, the editorial then attacked her motives by arguing that she knew better and was just being intellectually dishonest. As I wrote at the time:
So without a shred of evidence, the editorial tells us that Fershee knows that it is dishonest but she is supporting it anyway. Not content to simply ignore her candidacy for six months, the News-Register has now chosen to attack her personally.
A mean-spirited editorial filled with misrepresentations, outright lies, and personal attacks -- it easily wins this year's award.
Easily #1 with over a 1,000 individual hits was
Yes, it’s the obvious reason
with the subheading
A recent poll explains why the Intelligencer didn’t carry last week’s story and map that showed a significant rise in local mortality rates from Trump’s rollback of EPA emission standards
The included Associated Press map
showed that the area facing the largest increase in deaths from the rollback was an area that included northern West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania. The referenced poll found that people were more likely to act if they knew the consequences of Trump administration’s rollback of EPA standards which I suggested was why it was not run locally. The high hit number no doubt came from its Facebook postings. (A thanks to those who spread the message.)
The #2 most popular post was an analysis of the pictures at the top of the Ryan Ferns for State Senate Facebook page:
In the post and the post that followed it, I used what were likely the originals to argue that the pictures of his opponent, William Ihlenfeld, were bogus – Ferns’ campaign had, in all likelihood, unethically photoshopped the pictures to represent Ihlenfeld appearing with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Following at #3 was
WTOV takes another step toward becoming “Trump TV
which looked at how Sinclair Broadcasting’s local channel was following a company script to attack the “biased and false news” found on other channels.
Finally, Saving Senator Ryan finished a close fourth. Back in February, before the West Virginia teachers even went on strike, the Republican Majority Leader, Ryan Ferns, claimed that the state teachers were unfairly attacking him. Our local “newspapers” supported him despite what Ferns had said about teachers. I put together this fake movie ad as part of my blog post to explain what was happening:
The rest of the post documents the papers’ numerous efforts to give Ferns credit.
2018 Website Numbers
Google Analytics tells me that over 5600 separate users visited the website at least once during 2018 which was a 67% increase over 2017. Roughly half were from West Virginia with about half of those from the Northern Panhandle counties. Similar to last year, social media referrals grew significantly and now make up roughly one-third of total readership.