Gov. Cooper

Gov. Roy Cooper, top right, views the destruction at the Boardwalk RV park in Emerald Isle during a tour of the Crystal Coast in September after Hurricane Dorian. (Dylan Ray photo)

Carteret County — The past decade brought major changes to the news industry, and newsrooms across the country had to either adapt to the digital ways of the future or close their doors.

The News-Times was not spared from those industrywide changes and has made changes to focus more on digital publishing.

Change can certainly be scary, but the numbers don’t lie – online readership of was up in 2019, with 2.22 million visitors to the website, compared to 2.1 million in 2018. Those visits amounted to more than 4.4 million total pageviews in 2019.

The News-Times’ social media feeds also garnered thousands of shares, “likes” and comments in 2019, with some posts sparking lively debate. As in years past, weather stories, crime news and breaking news, including car accidents and missing person alerts, were particularly popular on social media, while the top stories on the website were a mixed bag.

Without further ado, here are the top online stories of 2019:


Top web stories

“Tornado touches down in Emerald Isle”

With 30,601 pageviews, the initial report about a tornado that struck the Boardwalk RV Park in Emerald Isle during Hurricane Dorian was the website’s most read story of 2019.

Overall, the impacts of Dorian were less severe than Hurricane Florence in 2018, but the county wasn’t entirely spared the effects of the Category 1 storm when it blew through Sept. 5. The tornado touched down as the outer bands of Dorian approached the county, damaging more than 60 homes and five businesses. Many homes were totally destroyed, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied the county’s request for individual assistance.

“Motel sells for $2.25M”

This story, detailing the sale of the Showboat Motel on the Atlantic Beach Causeway, grabbed 29,990 pageviews in 2019, barely missing the top spot on the most-read list. The article states the 42-room motel hadn’t been operational since 2005 and its condition was deteriorating, creating an eyesore for Atlantic Beach. In June, the motel’s previous owners sold the property for $2.25 million to Showboat Investments LLC of Zebulon, which plans to redevelop the property.

The article also generated discussion in the comment section as people speculated what could eventually be built in the motel’s place.

“PKS upholds $10K fine against homeowners”

Another debate-sparking article, this story generated 22,652 pageviews and numerous comments on the website. In April, Pine Knoll Shores fined Chet and Rhonda Osterhoudt $10,000, the maximum amount allowed by the state, for removing vegetation from the frontal dune on their oceanfront lots. The Osterhoudts appealed the fine, but after a hearing in July, the town upheld its decision.

Some commenters wondered if the $10,000 fine was enough for the amount of damage caused to the natural environment, while others thought the town was overstepping its bounds by fining residents for what they do on their own properties.

Honorable mentions: “A new Top Dog at Big Rock,” 16,248 pageviews; “Final appearance held in malicious castration case,” 14,977 pageviews; and “Teen survives shark bite, Fort Macon beach reopens” 14,805 pageviews.


Top Facebook posts

Video: “The Top Dog weighs in the biggest blue marlin in Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament history…”

This moment in Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament history was the most popular post by far on the News-Times’ Facebook page in 2019. The June 15 post reached more than 618,000 people and garnered more than 26,000 reactions, comments and shares.

The video shows the crew of the Fenwick Island, S.C.-based vessel the Top Dog hoisting the record-breaking 914-pound blue marlin it caught during the annual tournament. The team took home the top prize and went down in Big Rock history for the massive catch.

“Motel sells for $2.25M”

The Sept. 21 Facebook post for the story about the Showboat Motel sale reached more than 122,000 people and more than 2,300 people reacted, commented or shared the post.

“La Perla restaurant to close its doors”

This Dec. 18 post with a link to an article about the impending closure of La Perla restaurant in downtown Beaufort reached 45,800 people and received 311 reactions, comments and shares. La Perla relocated from Morehead City to Beaufort in recent years, but its owners decided to close at the end of 2019 due to financial reasons.

Honorable mentions:

Dec. 20 article link, “Sea Level’s Snug Harbor closes,” 41,900 people reached, 622 reactions, comments and shares; May 21 post “Swimmer pulled from ocean Sunday in Emerald Isle dies,” 38,900 reached, 1,300 reactions, comments and shares; and Dec. 3 article link “Crowd supports retiring superintendent, appeals for politics to be kept off school board,” 36,900 people reached, 507 reactions, comments and shares.


Top @newstimesonline Twitter posts

“High winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Dorian arrive in Emerald Isle …”

A Sept. 5 tweet with an accompanying video of severe weather was the News-Times’ top tweet of 2019 with 10,111 impressions across the website, including 36 “retweets” and 32 “likes.”

The video shows intense rain and winds arriving from Hurricane Dorian at the Boardwalk RV Park in Emerald Isle, where a tornado had touched down earlier that morning.

“TDA worries as rental market remains thin”

This tweet with an article detailing the state of the tourism industry garnered 4,634 impressions in 2019. Hurricane Florence in September 2018 damaged numerous hotels and vacation rental properties, and the Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority worried the lack of rooms could affect summer tourism in the area.

Although several properties are still closed as of the end of 2019, TDA officials have since reported the county had a successful tourism season.

“For schools, hurricane repair work continues”

Although Hurricane Florence happened in 2018, the benchmark storm was still top news in 2019. This Sept. 21 tweet about ongoing repairs at the county’s public schools made 3,423 impressions across the website.

Honorable mentions: “SPORTS: Turner named AD at West,” 3,057 impressions; “BREAKING: Carteret County Superior Civil Court Judge Joshua Willey released Melvin Davis and Licurtis Reels Wednesday…” 2,800 impressions; and “Tornado touches down in Emerald Isle,” 2,274 impressions.

Contact Elise Clouser at; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.

(1) comment

Core Sounder

The following headline is the one that stands out to me and one that I will always remember. " Reels brothers released after nearly 8 years" These old men should have never spent a day in Carteret county's jail much less 8 years. Just goes to prove what one can do when they have plenty of money and what one can expect if they don't have much money.

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