Reflecting on stories, changes in 2015

Published 9:12 am Thursday, December 31, 2015

This week, our staff has been counting down the top stories of the year in our daily newspapers and online at

We worked hard to determine which stories and events had the greatest impact on our communities, factoring in long-term effects, milestones and “buzz” throughout the region.

It is always interesting to reflect on a year this way, because in the day-to-day hustle we often forget just how much truly happens in 365 days. In addition to our subjective analysis of the top stories of 2015, we used a more quantitative method to rank the top stories on our website this year. Google Analytics proved that the most clicked-on stories featured hard news events, which often are the “bad news” stories about crimes, fatalities and injustice.

While those stories are certainly noteworthy and often do carry a lot of impact on the community, we realize that some of the “good news” stories carry a more long-lasting impact. Some of my personal favorite stories are the ones that at face value seem to have minimal impact, but can be tremendously powerful. I love to see people take a bad situation and find a positive impact.

For example, when Rev. Benjamin Hutchison was forced to resign his position at Cass United Methodist Church, he celebrated the recently passed right to marry another man, and did so among dozens of people from all over the United States on the steps of the Cass County courthouse. It was a beautiful, monumental event to witness, and I felt blessed to be present.

The story with the seventh-most clicks in 2015 fit this category as well, and featured a Niles couple that responded to the death of their triplets by raising money for the Hearts of Gold charity at Memorial Hospital. While the story was inspired by a heartbreaking event in this couple’s life, it was heartwarming to see the Ungers’ generosity despite their pain.

Our editorial staff also worked on some new projects this year in our effort to continue improving our products and providing our readers with the information they deserve.

This year, we launched our new sectioned back pages. For roughly the last 52 Mondays, we’ve offered local business news, and there was plenty to showcase. Dozens of new businesses made their way to southwest Michigan this year. Although we said goodbye to some longtime businesses like Lunker’s and A Casperson Books, plenty of other opportunities have filled our storefronts, and many more are on their way.

I enjoyed spotlighting some of the fun things going on in our local schools every Tuesday, and so many of the generous people who make up the countless volunteer organizations in our region on the Giving page each Wednesday.

In our lifestyle magazine, Michiana Life, I had fun getting to know several people throughout the Michiana region and telling their stories on a relatively new platform. Though the magazine launched in late 2014, we really hit our groove this year and I think I can speak for everyone here when I say we have had a blast working on a new product to showcase southwest Michigan and northern Indiana.

The year 2015 was certainly a memorable one in southwest Michigan, and I have no doubt 2016 will be equally interesting and impactful. We look forward to finding more creative, innovative ways to report the news with you, and thank you for joining us on the journey.


Ambrosia Neldon is the managing editor at Leader Publications. She can be reached by phone at (269) 687-7713, or by email at