The Observer’s top 10 posts of the 2010s
Kelli Smith | Wednesday, January 15, 2020
In the last decade, The Observer has hosted thousands of diverse stories and viewpoints. As I wondered about an opening column for the 2020s, I thought of an idea I’m hoping I won’t regret: reviewing our most viewed content of the last 10 years.
I’ve always been confounded by some of the pieces that end up taking off. My takeaway is virality is unpredictable, and our audience even more so. If you’re like me, some of these might surprise you.
But without further ado, here are the most viewed posts on The Observer’s website over the last decade:
With 26,406 views, this 2014 letter is a short, pointed questioning of the University’s failure to inform students of off-campus crimes. Written after a Holy Cross student was shot less than a mile from campus, the author ended it with a poignant question: “In the meantime, I think we should ask ourselves: are we a University with an administration, or an Administration with a university?”
This letter brought in 26,649 views and sparked a firestorm in the comments by arguing that labor unions are good for the working class. Leave it to the Notre Dame community to engage in a good old-fashioned economic debate.
See No. 1 (spoiler alert).
Admissions stories always top the charts. Less known, however, are the emails our reporters get as a result of these pieces. I wrote a report a few years ago and received a surprising number of messages from alumni asking why their grandchild wasn’t accepted or if I could “put in a good word” for specific applicants since I clearly have an in with admissions. Actually, dear readers, I was waitlisted — so my guess is as good as yours.
If we didn’t have top posts about football, it wouldn’t be Notre Dame. “A Texas thank you” is easily the most heartwarming post on this list. Written in 2015 by a Longhorns fan who visited campus for the UT-Notre Dame game, the letter thanks the Notre Dame community for “remarkable hospitality and generosity.” With 36,453 views, the Irish community seems to have appreciated that note.
This one surprised me at first glance, but I’ve never been great at science. With 48,710 views, this letter analyzes whether body odor is good for you. Not sure what the letter’s virality says about our community, but I’m not one to judge.
Some more wholesome content. With 49,286 views, this story rehashes senior Tommy McNamara’s unbelievable actions after chasing down a robber in downtown South Bend. We love a good hero story.
This was our highest tracking post for most of the decade. Whether because it invokes nostalgia or because it reached the right circles, this collection of songs is consistently trending. At 128,396 views, our staff long hailed it as our unbreachable top post — until last March.
Coming in hot at No. 1 with 202,980 views is Maryann White’s infamous letter about leggings. This one is personal for me because it went viral my second week as Editor-in-Chief, and I’m unspeakably scarred from having to moderate hundreds of outrageous comments on it. I spent my entire 21st birthday reading the world’s hot takes on “nether regions” and “blackly naked rear ends.” What’s worse, the comments still haven’t stopped coming in — have fun, next Editor-in-Chief!
In all seriousness, as The Observer embarks on a new decade, we’re continually measuring what engages our audience — you — the most. Drop a story tip or letter to the editor this new year, because our content is unquestionably enhanced by your thoughts and insights. For our sake, hopefully that involves less debacles over body odor and leggings — but hey, all viewpoints are welcome here.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.