The Most Engaging Stories of 2022
Our 2022 edition of The Most Engaging Stories reflects a year in which the dominant storylines of the previous two years, Trump and COVID, faded to the background, and a wider range of topics filled the void. As told by engagement, readers spent the most time with stories like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Queen Elizabeth’s death, and the continued scourge of gun violence in the U.S.
The most engaging story of the year, however, doesn’t fit into any of those categories. That honor goes to Before Jerry Sandusky, Penn State football had another serial sexual predator. This is the untold story of his crimes and the fight to bring him to justice, an investigative report from Tom Junod and Paula Lavigne at ESPN. The second most engaging story is the BBC’s obituary for Queen Elizabeth.
With four entries in the top ten and thirty six overall, we also have to recognize CNN’s outsize presence on the list and their ability to inform and engage their readers with stories like What does Putin want in Ukraine? The conflict explained and This traffic stop between a Black man and a White state trooper began with fear. It ended with a surprising act of kindness.
Selected from more than 28 million pieces of content, this list is a celebration of fine journalism produced across the world, and a record of the stories we, as readers, spent our time with. Below, we explore the topics that engaged us this year as well as how we formulate our list.
The 10 most engaging stories of 2022
- ESPN | Before Jerry Sandusky, Penn State football had another serial sexual predator. This is the untold story of his crimes and the fight to bring him to justice.
- BBC | Queen Elizabeth II has died
- Politico | ‘Yes, He Would’: Fiona Hill on Putin and Nukes
- CNN | What does Putin want in Ukraine? The conflict explained
- Chicago Sun-Times | Horror on the Fourth: Suspect in custody after 6 killed, dozens wounded at Highland Park Fourth of July parade
- Politico | Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows
- CNN | This traffic stop between a Black man and a White state trooper began with fear. It ended with a surprising act of kindness
- BBC | Your complete guide to the Queen’s funeral
- CNN | Uber driver who got a hotel room for teen passenger after being stuck on I-95 gets offered a new job
- CNN | Alabama corrections officer who escaped with inmate has died in hospital, sheriff says
See all of 2022’s Most Engaging Stories here.
The most engaging topics of 2022
Ukraine and Russia
Though a few individual stories ranked higher, the war in Ukraine was far and away the most engaging topic of 2022. In an analysis of the most newsworthy events of the year, articles on the war accounted for over a quarter of total engaged time. Readership has slowed since its peak during the initial invasion in February, but the ongoing war continues to bring daily updates.
Guns and violence
From Highland Park to Uvalde to Colorado Springs to Shinzo Abe’s assassination on the other side of the world, gun violence again features prominently on our year-end list. It’s a reminder of the tough topics journalists confront in order to provide their readers with the news, both good and bad.
The British royal family
Led by Queen Elizabeth’s death, King Charles’s ascension, and the scrutiny of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the royal family had no shortage of coverage in 2022. Two stories surrounding the queen’s death made it into the top ten.
How we determine the most engaging stories
The quantitative factors
Our Data Science team analyzed more than 28 million pieces of content published in 2022, representing more than 361 billion minutes of Engaged Time. The top 1,000 articles were then sorted by Total Engaged Minutes*, individually reviewed and categorized, and narrowed down to 100 stories based on a series of qualitative criteria outlined below.
How we calculate Total Engaged Time
Total Engaged Time is the total amount of time visitors spent actively reading and interacting on pages. Read more about our Engagement metrics.
The qualitative factors
We assembled a cross-functional team of readers and curators from inside Chartbeat (many of whom have a journalistic or editorial background) to determine the criteria for this list. Beyond Total Engaged Minutes, we want to ensure that the list celebrates original reporting. More difficult to determine is the criteria for stories that do not make the list, but these include:
- Live blog coverage that assembled content in excess of 48 hours and multiple news cycles
- Collections of uploaded documents without original reporting
- Listicles comprised primarily 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
* Editor’s note: The engagement data was compiled December 15, 2022. We will continue to review traffic to articles after that date to account for the impact of any breaking news.
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