As journalism changes, digital content becomes more important.
It’s not just a new way of presenting articles, allowing newspapers to deliver readers with information as it becomes available, updating it as it breaks and getting it to you when it happens instead of waiting to have it over your morning cup of coffee. It also gives very real feedback, allowing news agencies to know just what stories are hitting home with the audience.
At the Centre Daily Times, the digital product has been front and center with the news staff in 2015 with the implementation of a new look for the website in November, along with new ways to present the information to make it as accessible as possible.
Digital editor Chris Weddle has combed through the numbers to find the stories that spiked digital interest over the past year.
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Scooter operator killed in State College collision
Joel Reed, 39, of Port Matilda, died after a crash at the corner of North Atherton Street and Park Avenue on a June afternoon.
The loss of the father of two didn’t just make people click on the link to read why traffic was backed up. It made people want to know more about the intersection, which has been the site of multiple dangerous crashes. Reed was the second person to lose his life there in a year’s time.
It was the 10th most read story of 2015.
Spikes apologize to fans after Corey Feldman appearance
The ninth most read story came after the State College Spikes issued an apology to the crowd that came out for the 2015 retro night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
A follow-up to the successful 2014 event with Alfonso Ribeiro, the Spikes brought in 1980s actor Corey Feldman. It was not what they expected. Instead of an interactive experience with fans, Feldman presented a concert with his new band, Corey’s Angels. General manager Scott Walker called it “not exactly family friendly.”
The story went slightly viral, being picked up by numerous sources and sparking social media responses from Feldman, whose band was subsequently dropped from a planned performance at the Special Olympics in Los Angeles.
Arson charges against Centre, Clearfield firefighters
Four area men were charged with arson in November. Arson charges aren’t exactly everyday occurrences in Centre or Clearfield counties, but what made this the eighth most read story of the year was who they were.
The young men were all volunteer firefighters, one from Columbia Fire Company in Osceola Mills and three from Hope Fire Company in Philipsburg.
Multi-car crash closes College Avenue near Pleasant Gap
Five people were taken to the hospital after a five-vehicle pile-up in Benner Township in June.
College Avenue was closed after a vehicle entered the wrong lane as it went around a curve, causing a crash that created a domino effect and became the seventh highest read story of the year.
State College police officer dies while on duty
Local law enforcement lost one of their own in February when State College Officer Bob Bradley died on the job.
“Life is a test and my brother passed with flying colors,” sister Elaine McMahon said at his funeral, a poignant celebration of a man who dedicated himself to serving others.
The original story was the sixth most read story of the year, but readers also followed the well-attended goodbye, which included officers from all over Pennsylvania and far beyond.
Just weeks later, Centre County emergency personnel were following another tragic loss. Local firefighters prayed for and supported Clearfield County fireman Jeff Buck, 18, who died after being injured at a blaze. Dozens of Centre County first responders attended his funeral at Clearfield High School, where he was a senior.
Centre County DA Parks Miller accused of forgery
Accusations against an elected official always prompt interest. In January, Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller was the target, as allegations were brought forward by local attorneys that she had forged a judge’s signature on an order, as part of an investigation of threats against a member of her staff.
The fifth most read story was just the start of months of back and forth between the DA’s office, the Centre County commissioners, the attorneys accusing her of misconduct and the Attorney General’s Office, who ended up investigating the allegations.
In July, a grand jury declined to prosecute the DA. State Attorney General Kathleen Kane said that the evidence did not support charges.
Parks Miller, in return, has filed suit against the commissioners, the county solicitor and administrator, her accusers and Judge Pamela Ruest, whose signature was at the heart of the matter, for a raft of reasons in federal court. That case is still ongoing.
Police say woman assaulted elderly man with hacksaw, model airplane
The fourth most read story was a shocking tale of domestic violence against an elderly man in May.
Police said Bonnie Sue Treaster, 46, attacked her 82-year-old boyfriend, slapping him, punching him, and using a hacksaw, an exhaust clamp and a model airplane as weapons. The man suffered injuries to his groin, fingers and head, including a minor brain bleed.
The case has been continued and is slated for the February term of court.
Rebersburg man charged with 75 counts in child sex assault
The most recent story on the list is the bronze medalist in digital reads.
In December, Austin Ronk, 19, was charged with 75 counts of various crimes connected with the sexual assault of an 8-year-old, including three counts of rape and three counts of rape of a person younger than 13. The assaults are alleged to stem from three separate incidents.
Ronk waived his preliminary hearing last week. He remains in Centre County Correctional Facility.
Woman dead after College Township shooting
It’s been years since Centre County had a murder. In 2015, there were two of them.
The first, the August shooting of Nuria Kudlach, 51, in her College Township home, was the second most read story of the year. Her husband, Alois, 49, has claimed self-defense. He is charged with first- and third-degree murder, plus aggravated assault. His case is slated for the February term of court.
Two months later, another woman was killed in College Township. Natalya Podnebennaya, 58, was stabbed repeatedly in her car outside of the townhouse she owned with her husband. Vladimir Podnebennyy, 63, is awaiting trial for first- and third-degree murder, aggravated assault and possessing instruments of crime.
Parents thought missing man was graduating from Penn State
In a college town, graduation gets a lot of attention in some ways but is also easily glossed over in others. After all, it happens three times per year.
In May, graduation weekend coverage grabbed plenty of readers when a man was reported missing. The family of Jon Steindorf, 23, believed he was graduating that weekend. He was reported missing Friday night when his parents went to pick him up, and they soon discovered he would not be donning a cap and gown.
Steindorf was located unharmed, but the time he was missing caused quite the stir among the Penn State and Centre Region communities, making it the most read story of 2015.