2018 provided stories that readers embraced

No two years are alike, although common themes about overcoming difficulties and working through trying times are reflected in stories published in High Plains Journal in the past year.

Based on pageview reports gleaned from the Journal’s website—www.hpj.com—we take a look at the most popular stories with readers this year.

Our most-viewed story for 2018 was first published in 2013: “A toilet paper movement,” a Common Ground column by Jennifer M. Latzke that found new readers thanks to social media sharing. Her message about the importance of supporting local businesses continues to resonate with rural readers.

Our most-viewed stories at HPJ.com published in 2018 were:

1. Rising from the ashes: When the smoke cleared, this Vici, Oklahoma, rancher found a miracle in his pasture (Amy Bickel);

2. Collection of a lifetime (Lacey Newlin);

3. Kansas farmer tells of fighting the Stanton County fire (Amy Bickel);

4. A year later, ranchers are healing after Kansas’ largest wildfire (Amy Bickel);

5. The cowboy rides again (Jennifer Theurer);

6. Tax trouble: If it stands, Section 199A gives cooperatives an advantage (Amy Bickel and Larry Dreiling);

7. From cash crops to cover crops: In a tough farm economy, a Nebraska farmer shares the economics of grazing every acre (Amy Bickel);

8. Equine facilities impact communities in more ways than one (Kylene Scott);

9. House passes 2018 farm bill by two votes (Larry Dreiling); and

10. From seed to sip: Midwest farmers are seeing rise in popularity of craft distilling (Amy Bickel).

It should come as no surprise that story Nos. 1, 3 and 4 were at or near the stop. The Kansas-Oklahoma stateline in southcentral and southwest regions of Kansas as well as Colorado and Texas experienced drought conditions and wildfires similar to in spring 2016 and 2017.

“Collection of a lifetime” included not only a look at antique machinery collected by an Oklahoma man but readers were curious about the barns that housed them.

“The cowboy rides again” was a tale about a cowboy who faced debilitating injuries, but thanks to the ingenuity of a grandson and a gentle champion horse, he is able to ride the Kansas plains. That story reached No. 5.

As 2018 began farmers and ranchers were rightfully concerned about what a sweeping tax overhaul would mean to them in light of low commodity prices. One of the tax provisions that put privately owned small grain operators at a disadvantage was fixed. Another looked at how in light of tough times a Nebraska grower makes sure every acre is grazed, if feasible. Those stories were No. 6 and No. 7, respectively.

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The Top 10 included a story about how equine facilities are important economic generators and serve an important need to enthusiasts and benefit the communities. The final two stories in the Top 10 were distinctly different. No. 9 was about the House passing a farm bill, and in a contentious year Congress was able to finish 2018 with a bill that was signed by President Donald Trump. The No. 10 story, which was a theme on tourism, took a look at how Midwest farmers were tapping into craft distilling.

Trent Loos penned the Journal’s most-viewed columns in 2018: “HSUS CEO has found himself in hot water” and “There’s mining in Oregon but not for minerals.” Jerry Nine came in third with “Fire is reason for concern.”

Our most popular videos of the year were Amy Bickel’s video about the third annual Kansas Cattle Drive in February in BuhlerBickel’s interview with Kansas farmer Joe Swanson about industrial hempLarry Dreiling’s talk with Kansas State University Research and Extension wheat and forage specialist Romulo Lollato during the 2018 Wheat Quality Council tour.

Dave Bergmeier’s shot of a fire at Emergent Green Energy near Minneola in June caught the attention of website viewers.

Readers also enjoyed seeing photo galleries of the winners of our 2019 Down Country Roads calendar contest as well as Jennifer M. Latzke’s photo tour of the Larsen Hay Terminal in Idaho.

This past year was an ambitious one for High Plains Journal, as staff members featured several special editions in 2018.

Editors called attention to rural America’s opioid epidemic in June. Staff members looked at what some of the causes were in rural America, the problems opioids create and why rural readers should care.

Journal employees shared what makes rural America great in the hometown special issue in July. For some it was a walk down memory lane that noted the ups and downs of their hometowns. For others in retrospect they gained a greater appreciation for their upbringing.

Our third annual issue and 70th anniversary issue closed out the year in December. The Agriculture Cares took a look at people who credit 4-H and FFA for helping them understand the need to give back to their community. The recently published 70th anniversary issue—Seven Decades of Success—provided readers with familiar faces as the Journal begins a milestone year.

High Plains Journal also entered into new market with HPJ Talk. The podcast, under the direction of Associate Editors Jennifer M. Latzke and Kylene Scott, gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at what went into stories that appear in print and online. The Journal also launched five HPJ Direct email newsletters, which provide targeted news and educational information about soil health, alfalfa/forage, wheat, sorghum and beef.

The Journal also made news itself this summer when Waterways Journal, St. Louis, Missouri, purchased the publication.

See a 2018 roundup of all of the stories and other content mentioned in this story below. We aren’t able to track the stories you read in the print edition and passed along to your neighbors. Let us know what your favorite story was from 2018.

Shauna Rumbaugh can be reached at 620-227-1805 or [email protected]. Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].