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Our most-read stories of 2019

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From sharks, to long-running legal cases, to our most powerful restaurants and up-and-coming leaders, here are the 10 stories that attracted the most reader attention in 2019.

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Readership numbers are not the final word in journalism – the most heavily read story on a news website on any given day, week or year isn’t necessarily the most important.

But in an era of fake Facebook posts, “confirmation bias” (a tendency to reject evidence that doesn’t accord with one’s established beliefs), and multiple distractions, InDaily’s top list for 2019 is a comfortingly weighty collection – with a bit of out-and-out curiosity built-in.

Our readers were attracted by a wide collection of work – with some surprises.

A few things are clear – you like local, even hyper-local, stories. And you like intelligence about local business.

10. South Australia’s top 40 leaders under 40

The news business can be gloomy, but this story most certainly isn’t. InDaily started the 40 Under 40 awards in 2018 as a way to recognise and promote young business leaders. Even the most cynical hardheads in the newsroom couldn’t help but feel buoyed by this list – South Australia certainly has some smart, inspiring people rising through the ranks.

9. SA’s billion-dollar water torture

Quite a different tone here… This exclusive report detailed the findings of an independent analysis which found South Australians likely paid more than a billion dollars too much for their water for the past decade because of “secretive, non-compliant, unreasonable and unfair” decisions taken by the former Labor Government about the value of SA Water.

8. SA coffee chain’s $370,000 hit for misleading franchisee

You, dear reader, care deeply about business in South Australia – at a fine-grained level. This story struck a somewhat unexpected chord with its tale of Funk Coffee & Food’s boss being fined for misleading a franchisee about the turnover of the Flinders Street branch of the cafe chain.

7. ‘It made me feel superhuman’: cognitive-enhancing drug use on rise in SA

This was a challenging story on several levels – including ethically. We discovered that many South Australians – particularly students and white-collar workers – had turned to a relatively new drug to supposedly enhance their cognitive capabilities. Many are purchasing it illegally, without a prescription. Experts were modestly cautious, telling us the long-term effects were unknown. One researcher had a crack at us on social media for supposedly promoting the use of the drug. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t talk to us for a story, but he did write this on another site. The most telling quote in our story was, perhaps, this one, from Adelaide Uni health researcher Melissa Raven: “My perspective is that rather than saying we have to stop people using these drugs in an unauthorised way, my attitude is ‘shock horror’ that working conditions shouldn’t be this difficult.”

6. Adelaide woman wins marathon defamation case against Channel Seven

This one combined a couple of our readers’ favourite topics: news about local media and the legal system. This story marked the end of one of Adelaide’s most epic legal battles, in which Malgorzata Barbara Poniatowska took defamation action against Today Tonight for a story which aired in 2011. The details are fascinating.

5. Adelaide restaurant power rankings

Who could resist? Our colleagues at CityMag – who drive much of InDaily’s food content – put together this list, using “a judging matrix based on traditional media coverage, critical acclaim, social media influence and our own gut reactions (pun intended).”

4. Adelaide business in liquidation after losing SA Health contract

Another curious entry on the list, this story shows that readers care about businesses of all sizes. The modest but longstanding marketing and document processing company, ABF Solutions, went into voluntary liquidation in January after losing work with SA Health, which opted to give the work to a Perth company after a tender process. It’s not just a story about a big bureaucracy moving work away from SA – it’s about how changing technology has impacted old industries like printing.

3. Why Lime e-scooters were squeezed out of CBD

It feels like Adelaide has had electric scooters for a long time – but the trial began in time for festival season just this year. The distinctive Lime scooters were an immediate hit with many South Australians but their presence on the streets was shortlived. This exclusive story broke the news that Lime would be dismissed from the city for failing to enforce geographic boundaries – to be replaced by two new companies. Those new scooters are now a familiar part of the streetscape – for good or ill?

2. Close shark encounter in the South-East

The stunning – and sad – images made this story a must-read. Back in March, a couple was walking on a beach near Kingston SE when they came across a 3.5 metre Great White Shark which had beached itself. Great Whites are an object of fear – this unfortunate creature was also magnificent.

1. Adelaide coffee pioneers forced into liquidation owing millions

Out in front by a long way was this exclusive investigation into one of the darlings of Adelaide’s speciality coffee scene – Bar 9. It’s a story of meteoric rise and fall – all too familiar in the hospitality industry. The company’s collapse has left debts of more than $2 million. Five former employees told us they are owed superannuation and, in some cases, also wages, annual leave, or redundancy payouts.

In case you missed it…

InDaily also published a raft of stories this year that might not have moved the readership dial as sharply as those above, but are important and worth revisiting.

As editor, I’ve selected five that are both important and enlightening.

Netted, drugged, locked away: the damning face of child mental health in SA

South Australian children experiencing mental crises are being tied down under nets, locked up in seclusion at extreme rates and forcibly injected with sedating drugs, prompting warnings youngsters are suffering lasting harm from coercive health-system practices.

Killing The Messenger: News Corp’s failed pitch to save suburban weekly

News Crop unsuccessfully lobbied several metropolitan councils for hundreds of thousands of ratepayer dollars to help prop up the ailing Messenger Newspapers brand, warning continued publishing is “at risk”.

Accused “phoenix developer” behind collapsed SA construction companies

The director of three SA construction companies liquidated over the past year, leaving a devastating trail of unpaid debts to local tradespeople, was accused of criminal corporate behaviour as early as 2002.

NOT A SAFE DROP TO DRINK: SA town’s water scandal

It is one of the most arid places in South Australia, but for decades the outback town of Oodnadatta has been without safe drinking water, prompting health concerns and leaving locals furious about what they claim is a fundamental breach of human rights.

The Forager podcast: inside South Australia’s food culture

For something completely different, this year we produced a podcast series about South Australian food culture.

In the first episode, we interviewed writer and gardener Lolo Houbein at her home in the Hills. From a childhood of deprivation under Nazi rule in the Netherlands during World War II, she has become one of our state’s most profound thinkers about food.

 

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