|Murphy Abigail Shuler,
as a puppy in 1993: She
is the real schnauzer who
inspired this blog.
Americans must love end-of-the-year lists. We certainly have plenty of them, so I've decided to join the crowd.
My all-time favorite such list was Casey Kasem's countdown of the year's biggest pop-music hits on American Top 40. Casey is getting way up there in years, but as far as I know, he still might be doing his "best of" list. If so, I don't know how he manages to find enough decent songs these days to fill a countdown.
As for Legal Schnauzer, it had never occurred to me to do a "best of" list at the end of the year. But a reader suggested one a few days back, and I thought, "Well, why not?" After all, many of my best ideas--and many of my most intriguing pieces of information--come from readers.
So I started thinking: What posts this year best represent the kind of reporting I hope to do here? Which ones were best written? Which ones best covered important subjects, in Alabama and beyond? Which ones addressed issues that most touched lives? Which ones seemed to resonate with readers? Which ones generated a high volume, and quality, of comments?
Those thoughts led to this question: What kind of impact is our little blog having? The year 2012 marked our fifth full year of blogging, plus about a half year of pieces in 2007. What do the numbers show? We churned out 322 posts this year, bringing our total to 2,334. Our audience continues to grow, with roughly 387,500 page views in 2012, up from 379,156 last year--and way up from the 187,571 in 2008, our first full year.
Our all-time page views top 1.57 million, with almost 1.1 million unique visits. (The real numbers are higher than that because I blogged for four to six months before signing up for a statistics service.) Those totals represent only visits directly to Legal Schnauzer, and do not include readers at a number of national Web sites where my work appears.
Gauging readership in the blogosphere is an inexact science, but I took a crack at it in July 2011, when we reached 1 million page views. Totaling our audience from all sources, my best guess is that we've had between 5 million and 10 million of what I call "significant reading experiences" (SRE). From all of the statistics available to me, our readership and influence seem to be growing steadily. For that, I am deeply grateful--especially when you consider that many of our posts deal with complex subjects and are not easy reading. Keeping up with Legal Schnauzer takes some work, and it's heartening to know that a significant number of people are willing to put in the effort.
With a variety of questions and numbers swirling in my head, here is my shot at Legal Schnauzer's Top 10 posts of 2012. I like to think we are getting better at this blogging thing as we move along. If so, this list should represent some of our best work. And early indicators hint that 2013 will be very interesting, indeed.
It's traditional to publish these lists near the end of the year in question. We are running out of time on that front, so I will start this post here on New Year's Eve 2012--with details to follow, in the first few days of 2013.
As always, we pay tribute to Murphy Abigail Shuler (1993-2004), our precious girl and the real schnauzer who inspired this blog. Her memory keeps us moving forward, toward a day when we hope Americans can enter courtrooms with some assurance that the rule of law will prevail.
With that in mind, this seems like a good time to rerun Murphy's appearance on a Birmingham news program, commemorating a Blessing of the Animals on St. Francis of Assisi day. Murphy is the schnauzer being held by her mom near the beginning and end of the clip.
Happy New Year to all of our readers. Thanks for your tips, your inspirations, your support, your constructive criticisms, your witticisms, and your determination to join us in this effort to help resuscitate a broken justice system. Most of all, thanks for your time and your interest.
Quite a few of you have become friends and acquaintances. Getting to know many of you--via phone, e-mail, snail mail, in person, or a combination of all the above--has provided some of my fondest memories of the past 5 1/2 years.
Burton Cummings, one of my favorite musicians, says, "Without the audience, you have nothing." I know from first-hand experience that he is right on target about that.
(To be continued)