by Lance Turner
Posted 12/27/2010 12:00 am
Updated 1 year ago
The Most-read Online Stories for 2010
1) KARK Employees Fired for Spoof Video
2) Ron Strother Dies in Apparent Suicide
3) Halter, Lincoln Take Runoff Bids into Final Hours
4) Bankruptcy Didn't Stop Barber From Living the Good Life
5) Oscar-winner, Fayetteville Native Lisa Blount Dies at 53
6) Son of Curt Bradbury Dies of Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound
7) John David Lindsey Files Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
8) Shula, Stephens Battle Over $1 Million in Annual Alimony
9) First Southern Bank of Batesville Fears It Bought $22 Million Worth of Fake Bonds
10) 2009's Biggest Selling Restaurants in Arkansas
ArkansasBusiness.com's most popular online news story of 2010 didn't lead any local TV newscast, though it wasn't for lack of video.
The July discovery of two videos, posted publicly on YouTube.com, produced by KARK-TV, Channel 4, reporters and staff members who cursed, made fun of interviewees and likewise skewered the local TV profession, was surprising, given the plethora of cautionary tales about how Web postings can come back to haunt the poster.
They were videos that went viral in the worst possible way for their creators, KARK and station owner Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. of Irving, Texas.
ArkansasBusiness.com's three stories on the videos and their aftermath - including the firing of three KARK on-air employees - are among the site's most-read stories ever. They generated tens of thousands of page views, thousands of video views, scores of links from other websites and a raft of "What were they thinking?" blog posts, columns and comments.
While it was the year's biggest traffic-driver, the KARK videos were far from the year's biggest scandal. That designation belongs to the labyrinth of allegedly bogus bonds, suspect loans and empty collateral surrounding Little Rock resident and Searcy attorney Kevin Lewis.
Arkansas Business was the first to report on Lewis and the millions of dollars in suspicious bonds he sold to First Southern Bank of Batesville and others, running an item in its "Whispers" column on Dec. 6. And once it hit the Web, readers put it among the most-read of the year. Subsequent follow-ups fed reader interest in a story that promises more twists and turns.
Tragedy also brought readers to the site. ArkansasBusiness.com was the first to report on the suicide of 61-year-old Home Bancshares President and COO Ron Strother, who was found on Jan. 31, slumped in the driver's seat of his 2007 GMC Yukon SUV in a Summit Bank branch parking lot on Cantrell Road in west Little Rock. He had shot himself in the chest.
Another tragedy that caught readers' eyes was the death at age 53 of actress and Oscar-winning producer Lisa Blount.
The Arkansas native, most famous as Debra Winger's best friend in the film "An Officer and a Gentleman," was found dead Oct. 27 in her Little Rock home by her mother. Blount was known to have been suffering from a condition similar to multiple sclerosis.
The suicide of 24-year-old Cameron Bradbury, the son of Stephen Inc. Chief Operating Officer Curt Bradbury, was one ArkansasBusiness.com almost didn't report. The tragedy didn't happen in a public place, nor was Cameron Bradbury a prominent person, although his father certainly is.
But Curt Bradbury had a message he wanted to deliver about the devastation caused by substance abuse and addiction. So he sent Arkansas Business a written statement, which ArkansasBusiness.com delivered to readers.
Big bankruptcies drove most of the news traffic to ArkansasBusiness.com throughout the year. And the biggest of the stories came out of northwest Arkansas.
No one better typified the go-go attitude of the real estate bubble than 34-year-old developer Brandon Barber, who, after developing the seven-floor, 37-unit condo project in downtown Fayetteville called the Legacy Building, filed a $16 million Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May 2009.
Arkansas Business tracked the Barber story from rise to fall. But it was a Dec. 6 cover story on his two-day bankruptcy hearing in September that attracted the most readers with eyebrow-raising details like a briefcase containing $30,000 in cash and a claim that he made $400,000 a year when a later statement showed he took in only $28,000.
Another high-profile bankruptcy attracted significant readership, that of John David Lindsey's $169.9 million Chapter 7 bankruptcy, filed in February. Lindsey, a Fayetteville real estate developer and son of Jim Lindsey, blamed the economic slowdown for his troubles.