Ready to roll after four days off.
And the big news is…well, there isn’t any.
It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s, the unofficial news dead zone. Other than cop-type news — traffic wrecks, arrests, and that sort of thing — news rarely happens this week.
Folks generally aren’t interested in any deep reads either. No more than I’m interested in writing one.
That can mean only one thing: Year in Review.
Ah, yes. The Year in Review. News reporters survive on these morsels at year’s end.
Although I’ve written gawd-knows-how-many of these things over a 40-year career, I’ve never been a big fan. Too many reporters use Year-in-Review as a lazy excuse to essentially rewrite headlines, to literally repeat what has already been reported, with nothing new.
Unless it’s a HUGE story, the typical Year in Review article echoes what already happened with neither context nor understanding of why it’s important, other than it grabbed a headline or two. (Here's my 2022 wrap from a year ago.)
I began my post-college newspaper career in Big Rapids, Michigan, the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Along with securing booze for the company New Year’s Eve party, my first assignment was writing the Year in Review stories. This is in a community where I’d resided for just a few days.
I went through all the year’s newspapers and ground out top stories based on the headlines. It actually was a brilliant move on the editor’s part because in only one short week I amassed a year’s worth of understanding of the community’s top issues.
Well, when my second Year in Review rolled around 12 months later, I was more than ready. Rather than simply recite what readers had already consumed, I wrote stories placing context with these issues, and why they’ll still be important in the new year.
I’d like to say I used this process every year after that, but I didn’t. However, my approach hasn’t changed.
Headlines do not necessarily make the top stories. The stuff I consider top stories are the ones felt at home by people. The stories that engage citizens to respond — negative or positive, doesn’t matter — with inquisitive insight.
I used to tell people during my Chronicle days that my favorite stories were the ones on Sunday’s front page when a wife tells her husband, “Did you see this?” And then the husband tells his friend.
Stories that garner sincere conversation are top stories. These are stories about taxes, government spending, the sheriff’s office, civic improvement, growth, and wacky stuff like Inverness Villages 4.
The blog is a little different. I can tell how many people read the blog, react to it, and comment on Facebook. This week I’m going to talk about some of those blogs and why they’ll continue to generate even more conversation in 2024.
But here’s the fun thing: It’s still my blog. Some topics — just being honest here — attract very little reader interest and I know that going in. Now. I’m not looking to write stuff no one reads. These blog types serve two purposes:
— Lay the groundwork for more blogs on similar subjects. I rarely have to explain Inverness Villages 4 to anyone these days, even outside Inverness. My first blog on the subject in August 2022 barely made a blip with readers. Now, all my blogs and Florida Politics stories about IV 4 link to that first blog.
— I write for my tastes. Some blogs are just fun. I giggle while writing them. Or, I watch every word, editing, and rewriting until 3 in the morning. For some reason, these tend to score low in reader interest.
All that said here are 10 of my favorite blog topics from 2023:
– Anything with Betz Farm.
– Same for Turkey Oak Drive.
– Ozello, not just glampground zoning, but the community overall.
– Political intrigue in a Tidal Wave car wash.
– Maylen Avenue and similar topics ignored by decision-makers.
– The former Just Wright World Headquarters on the shores of Big Lake Henderson, Mike’s 65th and Bluegrass, the move, benign lump surgery…my life stuff.
– Inverness Villages 4.
– Sheriff Mike Prendergast aggravating pro–Trump Republican supporters over his agency’s assisting in Sedition Panda’s arrest.
– Prendergast tossing Democrats under the bus in order to make himself look tough to those same Republicans.
– Mental health/addiction. Not an easy topic to discuss, but we’re getting there.
This week we look back at 2023. One final deep breath before plunging into 2024.
Join the discussion on our Facebook page.
Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.