The coronavirus? The elections?
According to the local papers, what was the Ohio Valley’s top story for 2020?
No, it wasn’t the coronavirus, and it wasn’t the November elections. It was
Moundsville Police Department Unveils Tactical Resource Vehicle
For a number of years, the Wheeling papers have published an end-of-the-year review of the top stories in the Ohio Valley. This year-end review would appear to serve several purposes for the papers: while it did bring some closure to the calendar year, it also helped the bottom line – by reprinting the story, the paper got double service from the original reporting.
In previous years, the top ten list was decided by the paper’s editors. Perhaps, the editors were too busy this year writing about all that election fraud (see previous post) or writing PR stories disguised as news articles about the papers' owner's ski resort. Whatever the reason, the papers based this year's rankings on the number of hits the online story received.
So how did a story about a mine resistant ambush protection vehicle get to be the locals’ most popular story?
Let me speculate. Local station WTOV’s Jaime Baker was most likely the first to break the Moundsville TRV story on June 18. Here is Jaime’s original tweet about it:
The Moundsville Police Department has added a vehicle to the fleet! I’ll tell you everything this MRAP offers- and explain how the department get it for free- tonight on @WTOV9 pic.twitter.com/qveCV7X1i9— Jaime Baker (@JBaker_WTOV) June 18, 2020
This tweet apparently got thousands of comments and retweets. The Wheeling Intelligencer covered the story the next day and that article became a link in many tweets like this one:
Moundsville, WV (pop. 9k) Police Department Unveils Tactical Resource Vehicle @intelligencerwv https://t.co/51WaB3VNyb If you want to know more about the 1033 Program, a key mechanism for the militarization of police forces, see: https://t.co/PaGjoFTwqw— Orlando J. Pérez (@Perez1oj) June 19, 2020
My hunch is that those tweets translated into numerous hits on the Intelligencer’s website.
I also did a blog post about it that day and linked to the Intelligencer’s article which probably added a few more hits. Finally, I would assume the story also made the rounds on Facebook. Consequently, the Intelligencer's online article received lots and lots of hits or at least enough to make it the most popular online article for the year. That it was a single story, unlike the virus or the election, probably didn't hurt its chances, either. So . . . . it's the Ohio Valley's top story for 2020. (Hmmm -- maybe the editors should reevaluate their method.)
Giving this story some thought, I think the Moundsville vehicle story has potential – why don't the locals assign a curious reporter (if they have one) to do a follow-up on the original story. A couple of questions about the vehicle quickly come to mind:
What are the benefits? Has the TRV been used? If so, what was it used for? (Did it successfully repel any Antifa attacks?)
Is Moundsville the only town or city to get one? If there have been other takers, what kind of experience have they had with the vehicle?
What do the supporters and critics of this program say?
Additionally, from the comments section of my original post, Louis Hart asked a good question about cost?
What (per month, per year) are operational and maintenance costs for Moundsville's free ex-military equipment?
Lots of possibilities, here. It might make a good follow-up story. (In a real newspaper.)
Have a good new year. Hopefully, it will be better than last year.