by Lance Turner
Posted 12/28/2009 12:00 am
Updated 11 months ago
Readers start clicking for political intrigue, however minor, when it involves the state's second-most famous governor and one-time candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
The story, by Managing Editor Jan Cottingham, noted the loss of a longtime Huckabee aide, the shuttering of Huckabee's think tank called the Vertical Politics Institute, and the move of VPI's chief to the campaign of Curtis Coleman, a Republican running against Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.
It attracted links from national political sites, including The Huffington Post, which piled on speculation as to the health of Huckabee's fundraising network and fed discussion about whether he'll run for president in 2012, discussion that continues to this day.
But by and large, it was pure Arkansas business stories that dominated 2009's most-read list.
Second in popularity was an item that's become an annual favorite among readers, in print and online: Mark Friedman's latest survey of "Who Pays $1 Million for a Home?" The story included a list of the 21 million-dollar homes in Pulaski County, their owners and some of the stories behind them.
Written nine months into the financial crisis, the story noted how the number of million-dollar homes in the county had fallen since 2004 and the homeowners' increasing reluctance to talk about their big houses.
Death and mystery continued to drive traffic throughout the year. Obituaries are reliably popular with readers, so it was little surprise that the sudden death of well-known public relations pro Tom Steves was the year's third most-read story.
Steves, marketing director for Twin City Bank, was killed in May in a motorcycle crash in northern Pulaski County. He was 68.
Meanwhile, Editor Gwen Moritz's update on the mystery of missing CDI Contractors CFO John Glasgow was the fourth most-trafficked story on ArkansasBusiness.com. Moritz's story came at the one-year anniversary of Glasgow's January 2008 disappearance and included comments from one of Glasgow's brothers, Roger, who said he now believed the CFO was dead.
Stories on crime and other people's money troubles consistently rise to the top with readers. Among the top were a pair of stories dealing with a multimillion-dollar credit fraud at IberiaBank in Arkansas.
ArkansasBusiness.com was the first news organization to identify the Arkansas borrower, Dana Washburn of Rogers, whose alleged fraud caused the bank to charge off $3.6 million.
A story chronicling the latest woes of fallen insurance executive Frank Whitbeck, symbolized in the teardown of his $2.5 million, 4400-SF home at 2322 N. Spruce St. in Little Rock, also drew a lot of attention from readers.
Also popular with readers: The story that revealed Little Rock lawyer and real estate investor Gene Cauley was being investigated by federal prosecutors in New York for stealing $9.3 million in client funds. Cauley pleaded guilty to felony counts in the case later in the year. He was sentenced to 86 months in federal prison.