Wednesday, December 31, 2008 By Aaron Brown
1. Go to Hell, KSTP
After Twin Cities ABC affiliate KSTP did a misleading hit piece on Ironworld under the guise of "investigative journalism," I gave them the business. The day the story ran I was getting a sense that folks who know my blog were expecting a show and, looking back, I think I tried a bit too hard. I hardly ever say "go to hell" to anyone in real life, but it flowed like butter for this one and ended up at #1.
2. Norman and the Green Screen
This is from a more innocent time last summer when Minnesota's U.S. Senate race was merely ridiculous. I still think there was something up with this Norm Coleman ad. I wasn't one of the primary beneficiaries of the national links on this, but I caught some of the wake.
3. Tom Bakk: the MinnesotaBrown interview
This was the first of two interviews I did with (very, very early) DFL gubernatorial candidates. This one got the most attention because Bakk is an Iron Range senator and I am an Iron Range blogger who travels in some of his political circles.
4. More Dylan Days press, including my large head on a webcam
I am a co-chair of Dylan Days in Hibbing, a music, arts and literature event held each May. The search engines drove up the numbers on this one on two fronts as the post included Bob Dylan and the name of many Minnesota media outlets. I wish I could have posted video of my webcam interview that ran on KARE 11. I've never looked more like W.C. Fields in front of that many viewers in my life.
5. Paul Thissen: the MinnesotaBrown interview
This is the second of my gubernatorial interview pieces with DFLer Paul Thissen, one of my favorite legislators.
6. Optimistic news about Minnesota Steel on the Iron Range
I got a lot of search engine traffic on Essar, Minnesota Steel and related terms from the ongoing mining and steel making project near Nashwauk. Sometimes I think the only people who read this blog are cranked up political types, my friends and family, and consultants checking to see if I'm causing mischief for their Range projects. If this is true ... uh, hi. This is awkward.
7. Two perspectives on an Iron Range Wal-Mart protest
This is an example of me trying to step out of a lockstep union vs. anti-union debate and make an argument about how labor issues can be advanced in the 21st century. It provoked an interesting discussion. There are a few things I'd do differently if I wrote this over again, but I stand by the sentiment.
8. Oberstar's opponent?
The GOP has a lot of problems in a lot of places, not least of which is Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District. In MN08 the Republicans didn't even announce the NAME of their candidate until near the end of the filing deadline. I found out from an anonymous reader who seemed to be close to GOP operations and who was disgusted with how the candidate recruitment process turned out. This earlier post caught a lot of links. (The candidate ended up being Mike Cummins and he lost to Jim Oberstar along the typical heavily DFL index of the district).
9. 'Those mobster ads' and why union choice really matters
This is my take on the anti-Employee Free Choice Act ads that sprang up during the U.S. Senate campaign. It's another look at the difficult 21st century terrain for the labor movement.
10. Confirmed: Duluth councilor Reinert to seek 7B seat
This was one of the first posts I did about the heavily contested House 7B DFL primary in Duluth after Rep. Mike Jaros retired. Duluth City Councilor Roger Reinert won the primary over Marsh Stenersen and other candidates and went on to cruise to a win in the general election in this longtime DFL bastion. I did several dozen posts about this race. Why? Most of the Range races were pretty boring this year and I wanted to see how I could do covering a race with some action. These posts all generated a lot of traffic (by my standards). I consider this something of a dry run for what I might do if there's another open seat on the Iron Range or if Jim Oberstar ever retires.
This is a fascinating list to me. Some of my favorite posts were largely ignored by readers, but in retrospect the ones that were most popular were so for a reason. It's quite a learning experience. I've also burned a lot of time on this blog. I am going to reconsider my strategy in 2009 to provide more quality using less time, which might mean somewhat less frequent posting. I posted almost 1,000 times in 2008. I can't imagine doing that in an odd year.
I welcomed at least 20,000 unique IP address holders to MinnesotaBrown in 2008, which isn't huge when you consider that some were search engine misfires, but not bad for my first full year of daily blogging. The number was probably larger because my stat analysis was spotty during the first few months of the year and was down during my redesign last fall. If these visitors were to create a new town on the Iron Range it would be the largest Range town (and most awesome!)
Other than the name of the blog itself, more people found this site googling "Tony Sertich" than did googling any and all variations of my name. And yet, not one of the ten most popular posts even mentions House Majority Leader Sertich. There is no justice in this world. Not for me, or Tony.
Happy 2009 everyone! This last year was a memorable adventure. Thanks for joining me and offering your thoughts as well. If you're a regular reader of this blog, a fan (or mortal enemy) of the Iron Range or someone who enjoys a unique perspective on life in an off-the-wall place, pick up a copy of my book "Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range." This is my first book from a new Duluth-based publisher Red Step Press. It's a mix of humor, history and my typical unusual perspective on the world I see. The sale of said book is how I justify my unpaid blogging, so ... you know. Just sayin.'