Ah, the internet. It never ceases to amaze how it makes some things go viral while others get lost in cyberspace. But as with most things, hindsight is 20/20 online.
The annual review of the Press’ most-clicked stories of the year never looks anything like the editors’ choices for top stories of the previous 12 months. Instead of big political and business news stories that affect many Long Islanders’ lives, readers instead flocked to articles about creepy clowns, serial killers and video games.
But hey, we’re here to inform, educate and entertain. So here’s the 10 Most-Read Long Island Press Local News Stories of 2016:
10. State Orders Testing of Bethpage’s Toxic Plume
New York State ordered the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman to allow water districts to have access to monitoring wells that are testing for carcinogens headed southbound from Bethpage in a 4.5-mile long by 3.5-mile wide underground plume—a cocktail of potentially harmful chemicals dumped decades ago by the defense contractor. No shock that readers are eager to know if their drinking water will kill them!
9. Long Island Cops Report Apparent Clown Sightings
Remember how freaked out everyone was when the creepy clown epidemic swept the nation this fall? So it was of little surprise that Long Islanders were hungry for news that the scary circus came to town, with police reporting incidents of clowns menacing the public in September and October. And that was before Halloween!
8. Did Police Name a Suspect in the Long Island Serial Killer Case?
While this story was bewildering, interest in it wasn’t. The Killing Season, a docu-series on A&E about the Gilgo murders and similar cases, noticed that in the edit history for the Wikipedia page on the Long Island Serial Killer (LISK) case, someone who appeared to be using a Suffolk County police IP address seemed to have added the name of a suspect, which was odd, considering the agency hasn’t officially named a suspect.
7. Silent No Longer: Brentwood Residents Detail MS-13’s Control Through Fear
Interestingly, this was the only story that made the editors’ picks of top stories of the year. After all, the fact that six people—most of them teenagers—were killed by gangs in Brentwood over a five-week span had become a national story. This piece, about how MS-13 uses fear to control their turf, was the most widely read Press story on the topic this year.
6. 2 New TV Series Examine Long Island Serial Killer Case
It was also no wonder that readers curious about the LISK case—perhaps the biggest Long Island story in recent years—were interested to learn that The Killing Season was coming to A&E and that People Magazine Investigates, which also dedicated two episodes to the Gilgo murders, was airing on Discovery ID this fall.
5. Report: Denied Service, Veteran Commits Suicide at Northport VA Hospital
This case was a real head-scratcher, but the anger it whipped up—as evident by how widely it was read and the online comments it generated—was not. In short, a veteran was said to have been turned away from the Northport VA Hospital before committing suicide in the parking lot outside the complex. The story led to congressional hearings, which raised more questions about the case.
4. Pokémon Go Fever Sweeps Long Island
Regardless of readers’ opinions on such things, the fact that this was news was astonishing. For those living in (Internet-accessible) caves, Pokémon Go is a smartphone app released this summer that set records for popularity as users worldwide and on LI fanned out across local destinations to hunt creatures only visible on their mobile devices.
3. Real Life Stranger Things-Montauk Parallels
Perhaps the only things weirder than the plot of the Netflix hit series Stranger Things was the fact that it was inspired by events said to have happened on Long Island. And given how both the show and tales of The Montauk Project sparked such interest, it’s no curiosity how this story detailing the link between the two took off.
2. Unidentified Murder Victim Dubbed Peaches Linked to Gilgo Beach Killings
This was a true revelation. As the Press first reported, authorities disclosed that partial skeletal remains of one of the 10 sets of victims found on Ocean Parkway six years ago in the Long Island Serial Killer case were confirmed via DNA to belong to an unidentified mutilated woman dubbed Peaches, whose torso donning a tattoo of the fruit was found in Rockville Centre in 1997. She was also confirmed to be the mother of the lone child whose remains were found amid the carnage along Ocean Parkway.
1. State Suspends Liquor License of Rowdy Nautical Mile Bar
OK, this one astonished the newsroom. Who knew that so many people cared that the New York State Liquor Authority had suspended the liquor license of Bracco’s Clam and Oyster Bar in Freeport after a string of complaints—including an unauthorized 50 Cent performance the same night when patrons of the club pelted police with debris? The bar’s owners are appealing, but who knows if they’ll get it back next year.