Top 10 Online Stories of 2013: Fraud, Development, Paula Deen Attract Reader Attention

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 12:00 am  

Bank Intrigue

One element of another of the year’s top banking stories, the auction of Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock, squeezed into the top 10: Waldon’s account of bank testimony at a July 26 bankruptcy hearing by Susie Smith, Metropolitan’s senior executive vice president, COO and CFO.

The story recounts the battle to save the $991 million-asset bank before its holding company, Rogers Bancshares Inc., filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy to facilitate the sale of Metropolitan.

“Throughout the bank, we were all very scared, from top down to a teller level,” Smith said of the financial crisis that peaked in 2009 and caused irreclaimable losses at the bank.

The story came ahead of a historic bankruptcy auction that saw Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff emerge as the new owner of Metropolitan assets.

Big Deals, Controversy & TV

Other stories rounded out the top 10:

• A “Whispers Blog” post about Paula Deen fans who took to Wal-Mart’s Facebook page to defend the besieged TV chef attracted its share of attention. Deen fans were unhappy after the world’s largest retailer said it was ending its merchandising relationship with Deen, who was accused of using a racial slur, and filled Wal-Mart’s Facebook page with comments in her defense. Deen supporters (and critics) were nearly as vocal on, leaving almost 200 comments and sharing the item on social media. The viral blog post was the second most-read story of the year.

• Another story that generated traffic far beyond the usual audience was Editor Gwen Moritz’s apology for her ill-considered — and widely misunderstood — decision to protest the Legislature’s decision to amend the state Freedom of Information Act by releasing the last legally obtained list of Arkansans licensed to carry concealed weapons. The apology, titled “My Learning Curve,” was No. 5 on the most-read list.

• Arkansas Business’ report on the Big River Steel announcement was also a hit with readers eager for word on the 500 jobs headed to the depressed Arkansas Delta. Interest continued as the Legislature debated, and ultimately approved, a first-of-its-kind incentive package to jump-start the $1.1 billion project.

• At No. 9 was former Assistant Editor Kate Knable’s report on the layoffs of about 30 people at two Little Rock television stations, KARK-TV, Channel 4, and KLRT-TV, Channel 16, which came in the wake of Mission Broadcasting’s purchase of KLRT. The move came as KARK owner Nexstar Broadcasting, which owns Mission, consolidated operations with KLRT.

10 Most Read Stories Online
Jan. 1-Dec.17, 2013

1. Late Mountain Home Doctor May Have Crafted Largest Medicaid Fraud in State’s History - Mark Friedman
2. Paula Deen Supporters Take to Wal-Mart’s Facebook Page - Lance Turner
3. Inside the Brandon Barber Case: Looking at His 5 Co-Defendants - Chris Bahn
4. Big River Steel Announces $1.1B Mill for Osceola, Will Employ 525 - Mark Carter and Lance Turner
5. My Learning Curve - Gwen Moritz
6. The 13 Most Expensive Home Sales in Pulaski County in 2012 - Mark Friedman
7. One Bank’s Scooter Stuart Thought He Knew Who Blew the Whistle - George Waldon
8. Brandon Barber, 4 Others Indicted for Fraud, Money Laundering - Lance Turner and Gwen Moritz
9. Almost 30 Lose Jobs at KARK, KLRT as TV Owners Consolidate - Kate Knable
10. Susie Smith Recounts Trials, Tribulations at Metropolitan National Bank - George Waldon



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