As the information highway becomes more streamlined, the public is no longer content to be just a passenger, but has taken over some of the driving duties, adding their views and voices to content published on the newspaper's Web site.
The Idaho Mountain Express site, www.mtexpress.com, received an average of 35,000 unique visitors per month in 2009, according to independent Web research firm Quantcast, and the stories that generated the most interest and discussion were related to wolves. Eight of the most commented stories were on or connected to wolves in Idaho. Following the animals' removal from the federal endangered species list, the state opened a wolf hunt in the fall.
Reporter Jon Duval's story on a female member of the Phantom Hill pack being the first wolf to be shot in the Wood River Valley garnered 537 comments since its publication Oct. 7.
The most e-mailed stories focused on people we had loved and lost, including skiers Craig Kjesbo and Stella Keane, and the failure of First Bank of Idaho.
Following is a list of the 10 Express stories or columns that were commented on the most and e-mailed the most in 2009:
Stories that generated the most online comments:
· Phantom Hill wolf killed (537 comments; news story on female member of Phantom Hill pack, first to be killed in the Wood River Valley).
· Feds kill 7 wolves near Stanley (246 comments; news story on U.S. Department of Agriculture's killing seven wolves near Stanley).
· Wolf killed likely a Phantom Hill member (96 comments; news story on wolf shot near Galena Summit on Oct. 20).
· As judge deliberates, wolf hunt begins (93 comments; news story on U.S. District judge in Montana deliberating whether to keep wolves on endangered species list, while hunters in Idaho were given the go-ahead to hunt).
· Predators clash above Elkhorn (88 comments; news story on a 2-year-old mountain lion killed by the Phantom Hill wolf pack).
· Wolf supporters to hold vigil (81 comments; news story on candlelight vigil staged by wolf supporters two weeks after the hunting season begins in Idaho).
· Fish & Game prepares for fall wolf hunt (76 comments; news story on Idaho Fish & Game officials stating that they believe wolf hunting will be allowed in Idaho).
· Illegal immigrants are costing us money (75 comments; Laine Hubbard's guest opinion regarding illegal immigrants in the United States).
· Second Amendment 'rights' run wild (74 comments; opinion by Express columnist Pat Murphy).
· Wolf hunt opens in valley Thursday (73 comments; news story on wolf hunting in the Wood River Valley).
Stories that were e-mailed the most:
· Predators clash above Elkhorn (154 times; news story on fatal encounter between mountain lion and wolves).
· Wolves find residential areas welcoming (64 times; news story on Phantom Hill wolf pack's making itself at home in Wood River Valley's residential areas).
· First Bank of Idaho faces capital shortage (52 times; news story regarding U.S. Department of the Treasury's order that First Bank increase its capital).
· City pitches in on First Bank failure (50 times; Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall reassures local businesses during credit crisis).
· City manager perspective from afar (50 times; letter to the editor from Emzy Veazy III of Aspen, Colo.).
· Avalanche claims Ketchum skier (41 times; an account of the death in the backcountry of Ketchum skier Stella Keane).
· FDIC takes over First Bank of Idaho (40 times; news story on local bank taken over by the FDIC).
· Valley loses beloved ski coach (40 times; story on the passing of ski coach and legend Craig "Cheeso" Kjesbo).
· Stella Keane (39 times; obituary of Stella Keane, "a quintessential Wood River Valley mountain athlete").
· Pros and cons of HPV vaccine debated (39 times; story published in 2007—still generated interest two years later).