The Most Engaging Stories of 2019: Reading beyond the top 100

One of the most difficult parts of compiling the The Most Engaging Stories of 2019 is that it needed to end at 100 pieces.

We err on the side of transparency in the qualitative and quantitative components that go into this process. This year, our cross-functional team of readers agreed that we would not include:

  • Live blog coverage of events that assembled content over multiple days and news cycles
  • Republished transcripts or collections of uploaded documents without original reporting
  • Listicles comprised of social media reposts or images
  • Sports scores, box scores, and individual league rankings
  • Quizzes and interactives that do not contain reporting and/or are continually updated throughout the year

The anatomy of a Most Engaging Story

What makes an engaging story? We take you through the steps that got us to the 2019 list.

  • Our Data Science team evaluated more than 54 million pieces of content totaling 294 billion minutes of Engaged Time
  • We then narrowed that list down to the top 1,000 articles by Engaged Minutes 
  • From there, a cross-section of readers from across Chartbeat reviewed and analyzed each piece of content, favoring original narratives over other formats (more on this below)
  • That list was narrowed down to 300 and another round of review by our team
  • The final 100 were ranked by Engaged Minutes, then analyzed once again to ensure they met the criteria

Here’s more details on the categories we encountered during our review:

Live blog coverage

It’s difficult to understate the impact of breaking news coverage for events such as Hurricane Dorian or the latest on the UK’s separation from the European Union. However, these stories garnered readers’ attention (and rightly so) over several days of coverage, yet would have been qualified as a single story. This would have given it an outsized advantage in Engaged Minutes over the other stories. 

Republished materials, such as transcripts or leaked documents

There’s no argument that documents, such as the letter from Robert Mueller summarizing his inquiry of President Trump, engaged readers. But, the absence of original reporting led us to the difficult decision to omit pieces such as this from the list.

Listicles and slideshows

Listicles, or articles that solely use social media, photography, and other forms of media engage readers, were also not included. As we mentioned above, our standard for original reporting means these pieces would not make the list.

Leaderboards, box scores, and league rankings

We discovered cricket, not soccer, engaged more readers around the world in 2019 than any other sport based on how many readers analyzed their post-game information. There was no question sports narratives such as ESPN’s How former ref Tim Donaghy conspired to fix NBA games made this year’s list, but scores and league tables did not.

Quizzes and interactives

Quizzes and interactive experiences have helped global publishers reach new audiences. In 2019, like years past, we have omitted these forms of media because they did not include original reporting and/or were updated regularly throughout the year, inflating engagement data.

See this year’s Most Engaging Stories for yourself and sign up for our monthly newsletter to gain insights into building audience engagement.

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