I'm convinced the proliferation of top-ten lists took off with the eponymously named David Letterman bit, back in the 80s. As evidence I offer this chart from the Google Books Ngram Viewer, which measures a word or a phrase's usage in published form over time. You'll notice the big spike for "top ten list" commencing right around 1990...
So maybe there's nothing inherently essential to creating a list of 10 items meant to summarize the year-in-whatever. But it has become de rigueur among media organizations, as the list below will show, and it is kind of interesting.
So here's a list of our own, the most clicked-on news stories we covered. Not only does it serve as an end-of-the-year wrap-up, but since we've only been in business a little over two months, it also represents a list of our most-popular-stories of ALL TIME, ever! Yowsa!
Stories that pre-dated our launch, like the San Bruno tragedy, are not represented. But as 2010 was a year in which much of the biggest news seemed to be back-loaded into the late-fall and winter months, an eventful initial period for our nascent blog it still was.
Nos. 6-10 of our top ten list below; nos. 1 - 5 tomorrow
John Toomey, a 20-year veteran of the kid-on-knee wars at the iconic department store, dismays an elderly couple by telling them a mildly blue joke. Macy's cans him, causing an uproar in the Santa-loving community and generating headlines as far away as Canada (closer to the North Pole, so understandable). Toomey is then offered a gig at Lefty O'Douls and caps off his 15 minutes in the limelight with a joke-telling cameo on Jay Leno.
Lured by Sacramento Choral Society tweets, thousands of singers descend on the Westfield Galleria mall in Roseville, intent on singing the "Hallelujah Chorus." The intended joyous event, billed as a flash mob, turns into a catastrophe, however, after reports of a creaking and shifting floor spur an evacuation order by police. A good time was had by none.
San Francisco's mayor wins election as the state's Lieutenant Governor, leaving a vacancy that has every local politician who ever gazed into the mirror while imagining his name on the No. 1 parking spot at City Hall licking his lips. Only Gav, in order to exert maximum influence over the succession process, threatens to stay on into the next year. And it's a threat he makes good on. The penultimate act in this drama may play out next week, when the outgoing Board of Supervisors meets...
NASA causes a stir by disseminating a cryptic press release that some speculate hints at the discovery of extraterrestrial life. The reality is more mundane yet still significant: Researchers had published a paper announcing the discovery of arsenic-eating microbes at the bottom of Mono Lake in California's Eastern Sierra, expanding the possibilities of just where in the universe life might blossom.
A number of scientists, however, are not convinced, and some claim that the paper should never even have been published.
Councilwoman Jean Quan, who lags former state senate leader Don Perata by 10 points after the first round of voting, mounts a stunning come-from-behind victory, enabled only by the city's new ranked-choice-voting system. Perata and supporters grumble, but Quan becomes both the city's first female and Asian American mayor.
The top 5 news stories tomorrow, and more end-of-year lists below:
- SF Chronicle 2010 in review: Explosive losses, Giant victories
- East Bay Express Year in Review
- Bay Citizen: The Year in News
- San Jose Mercury News Year in Review
- Oakland North: 2010 in Oakland: The year’s biggest stories
- Marin Independent Journal: A look back at the top Marin County stories of 2010
- The Island: Alameda Year in Review
- Sacramento Bee: Readers' top political stories of 2010
- Valleywag: Tech's Winners and Losers of 2010