There is still time before 2019 wraps up and so it’s possible the Burnaby NOW will publish a new story that will take over the title of “Most Read” this year, but I highly doubt it.
One-million pageviews is a pretty insurmountable number.
That’s how many times an opinion piece by the NOW’s brilliant assistant editor Julie MacLellan was read in 2019.
I’m sure articles in the New York Times or other major publications hit that number, but for a piece in a community newspaper – in a community of about 248,000 people – that’s a staggering figure.
The column was about abortion and the views of a young MPP from Ontario named Sam Oosterhoff.
Julie responded to Oosterhoff’s controversial and condescending views on the subject with a measured and thorough dismantling. (You can read it here.)
“You probably aren’t much concerned what I think of you or your views on abortion – or anything else, for that matter,” Julie wrote. “You should be. Because I’m not just speaking for me. There’s an army of us across this country who have heard your call to make abortion ‘unthinkable’ in Canada. Many of us have been silent up till now while the war on women’s rights rages south of the 49th parallel. We’ve been unsettled, angry, even outraged, but we’ve managed to convince ourselves it couldn’t happen here in Canada. Thanks for helping to jolt us out of our complacency.”
This column lit up our website from the moment it got posted and went supernova. As the Dark Helmet said in the movie Space Balls, it hit “ludicrous speed.”
I watched the analytics closely as it first spread across Metro Vancouver before spreading across B.C. and then the country.
Then it went global. Julie started receiving messages of support from around the world. It was a frigging juggernaut that just never stopped. The daily numbers were breathtaking. At the NOW, we have a TV set up in the newsroom that shows how many people are reading what stories at any given time.
We were all dumbstruck watching day after day, week after week as Julie’s column soared.
It’s always difficult to figure out why some articles are better read than others.
In this case, I just think Julie struck a tone with her column that resonated with women fed up with men deciding what should happen with a female’s bodies.
It was witty, smart, fierce and intensely personal – all the things great opinion writing should be.
It issued a call to all boys and men to “stand up and take responsibility for their own damn actions.”
It made me so happy for Julie because she’s really the heart and soul of the NOW – from her relentless arts coverage to her tireless attention to detail with our print pages to the yummy boxes of cookies she brings for the staff.
I knew Julie long before I started working at the NOW and working with her was one of the biggest reasons why I was so excited to get hired here. It’s been everything I had hoped for.
So, there you have it. The NOW’s most-read story of 2019.
If you haven’t read it, read it now.
Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.