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The most engaging stories of 2018

January 8, 2019 | By By Jill Nicholson, Senior Director of Customer Education—Chartbeat @tumbling_after

In terms of the most engaging content, 2018 saw familiar political and social themes rise to the top. These included Brexit, the Trump administration, the #MeToo movement, and climate change. But it was the deeply investigated and deeply personal stories of human struggle from publications like CNN, The New York Times, New York Magazine, and Rolling Stone that once again topped the list of the year’s Most Engaging Stories.

Selected from over 60 million pieces of content published in 2018 and ranked by their total engaged time for the year, the top stories serve as a snapshot of the year’s major events and highlight the themes that resonated most with readers.

Thematic Trends

“Each year, the Most Engaging Stories list proves the power of storytelling. We learn more about the world, of course. But we also learn more about how to make sense of it and each other,” said John Saroff, CEO of Chartbeat. “The depth of humanity we see in the journalism this year is astounding – especially of the publishers at the top, in particular, CNN, BBC, The New York Times and our greatest year-over-year riser, New York Magazine.”

Brian Stelter’s “CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61” holds the top spot on this year’s list, earning 29 million minutes of engaged time. Stelter’s lede, “In death, as in life, Anthony Bourdain brought us closer together,” exemplifies this year’s overarching theme: In the stories and challenges of others, we better understand ourselves. This theme is something echoed by many of the top stories, including nine from New York Magazine.

“We’ve been very happy to see so many readers engaging deeply with our journalism in 2018,” said Ben Williams, digital editor at New York Media. “And we think these hits show off not only the wide range of New York Media but also the range of stories that audiences will respond to: deep, candid interviews; fly-on-the wall access; entertaining longform narratives; sophisticated profiles; sweeping political analysis; and more.”

See the top 10 stories below. And check out our full list of the 120 most popular stories of 2018 and the themes of the year (and join the conversation on Twitter #TopStories2018).

The Chartbeat Top 10 Most Engaging Stories of 2018

  1. “CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61”— CNN
  2. “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration”— The New York Times
  3. “Brexit latest: Live blog”— BBC
  4. “This Is Why Uma Thurman Is Angry”— The New York Times
  5. “In Conversation: Quincy Jones”— New York Magazine
  6. “Maybe She Had So Much Money She Just Lost Track of It”— New York Magazine
  7. “Donald Trump Didn’t Want to Be President”— New York Magazine
  8. Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father”— The New York Times
  9. “For Kraft, Brady and Belichick, is this the beginning of the end?”— ESPN
  10. “The Trouble With Johnny Depp”— Rolling Stone
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