Revealed: Bolton's most read online stories of 2013
IT'S been an exciting year for The Bolton News' website — more of you are reading our stories online than ever before, and our audience is growing all the time.
Many of you will have unwrapped new smartphones and tablets this Christmas, and it's fair to say that the rapid growth of the use of devices such as iPads and Android phones has transformed the way we consume news since they entered our collective consciousness in 2010.
Journalism has faced some hard times over the last few years because of the internet, the recession and our changing lifestyles and habits, but it seems people's appetite for local news is now greater than ever.
We now reach a combined print and online audience of 65,772 every day.
At the heart of this growth is not just technology but the dedication of our reporting team to bring you the latest news in Bolton as quickly and as accurately as possible in a way that is convenient for you.
This year's biggest online stories are a mixture of comedy, tragedy and, of course, football — but it is clear, looking at the list, that a big, dramatic breaking news story is still the most likely factor to make you want to fire up your browser and find out what's going on.
When two young drivers set off racing around the streets of Bolton in July thinking, in the words of the judge who sent them to jail, they were "invincible", they obviously did not foresee the carnage and the drama that would result from their actions.
The young victim referred to in the headline, Raheem Hussain, was left with horrific injuries and needed six surgeons to operate on him and save his life.
He will probably never fully recover from his ordeal.
The two drivers, Mohammed Patel and Furqaan Mohmed, were jailed for three years and 10 months and two years and eight months respectively.
Several readers sent us dramatic pictures from the scene that we were able to publish online immediately, and we brought you regular updates as the story unfolded throughout the day, including CCTV video of the crash, which would have been number 11 on this list.
This was not only our most-read story of the year, but also our most read story ever.
Our live coverage of the drivers' court case was also very well read.
Kyle Smith died on Friday after apparently jumping from the Bradford Street bridge over St Peter's Way. This very recent event has touched a lot of people, and our report has already been read by tens of thousands of people.
The former page 3 model, once better known as Jordan, suffered a bit of a PR disaster when only a handful of fans turned up at Tesco in Horwich to meet her as she launched her new perfume, Kissable.
In what appears to have been a bad piece of advice by her publicity and marketing team, Katie hid away in a back room instead of coming out to meet her fans and be photographed by the waiting press, leaving many people feeling frustrated.
To make matters worse, in contrast, only three years earlier, thousands of screaming fans had queued to meet Katie's ex, Peter Andre.
But perhaps the most damning blow of all was one punter's assessment of the perfume itself. "It smells exactly like Brut," he said. Oh dear.
There was more horror and drama in October as a man stabbed his partner, a dinner lady, outside St James’s High School in Farnworth just as the children were finishing for the day.
The incident, or at least its aftermath as police descended on the area en masse, was witnessed by hundreds of people and word of it spread very quickly.
We were first alerted to the news by one of our readers on Facebook — such is the nature of modern-day news gathering — and were able to bring you the news within minutes of it happening, again with regular updates as it unfolded.
A story for our time — young Ben Moores was reported missing from his home in Breightmet one Saturday morning in June, and as police and his family started a huge search, many people turned to Facebook to spread the word.
Our story was only a picture and three sentences, but it spread like wildfire on social media, and was our second most shared story from Facebook this year.
Fortunately Ben was found safe and well the next day in Deane.
This horrendous story, revealed in court as the perpetrator was jailed for rape, has been cited as the ultimate example of karma.
Many people asserted via social media that Richard Thomas had got exactly what he deserved when it was revealed to him that he may have contracted the deadly disease as he raped his victim.
It has never been publicly confirmed whether Thomas did actually get HIV or not.
Bolton Wanderers are always a big driver of traffic to our website, and transfer deadline day stories are perennial achievers on this list.
Despite (or perhaps because of) the Whites' plummeting fortunes over the last couple of years and the lack of any action whatsoever on the September transfer deadline day, this was our most read transfer deadline day blog ever.
Our sports reporters Marc Iles and David Pye did a fantastic job of making it entertaining even though the end result was disappointing for Wanderers fans.
Another sad story in March, when a newborn baby's body was found dumped in a plastic bag in a lane in Lostock.
A huge search and media appeal followed in an attempt to find the baby's mother — with the main clue being a note requesting an Islamic burial.
She has still not been identified.
More tragedy in September, when 59-year-old Michael Stockton was killed in a horrific crash with a lorry in Bolton town centre.
A picture of a man suspected of raping a woman in an alleyway in Bolton town centre after meeting her in a nightclub was viewed thousands of times as people spread the word in an attempt to identify him.
- Bus services set to be cut across Bolton
- Council to spend almost £500,000 to combat school places shortage
- Thieves steal fence panel from couple's "pride and joy" garden
- Huge festival set to see families flock to the town centre on Easter Monday
- New mayor of Westhoughton's special way to celebrate a special year
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