Tuesday, February 2, 2016

New Job

Semisonic was right, every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end

Last week, I was offered and accepted a job. I will begin working as a reporter for The Richmond News in Richmond, Missouri later this month.

Around 5,700 people live in Richmond, which is about 40 minutes east of Kansas City.

I will cover the Richmond and Orrick school districts, the Orrick Board of Alderman (city council), and the Missouri 8th Judicial Circuit Court.

In two weeks, I will move to Richmond. I am in the process of saying goodbye to family and friends before the move.

Wish me luck. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

National Security Stories sets new record

Last month, National Security Stories had more readers than ever before.

The blog had 766 pageviews in January. No previous month had more than 600, let alone 700.

After I was laid off from The Daily Union, I had plenty of time to write articles for National Security Stories. Over the past two months, I covered a variety of topics, including gender, Guantanamo and Grandview Plaza. (Yes, they all start with “g.” No, I didn’t plan it that way.) I promoted the blog regularly on Facebook as well.

I have written a total of 214 posts during the history of my blog.

Below is a graph showing the number of stories published each month since I created the blog in September 2010, during my second month in college. 

The large spike represents the 27 Guantanamo profiles, and introduction to the series, that were published in February 2014. I wrote some of them in December and January. However, I wanted to practice reading the primary source documents and writing those types of stories, before I published the first batch.

I have definitely gotten better at writing Guantanamo prisoner profiles over time.

Below is a graph showing the relationship between articles written and views the blog has received. 

Clearly, there is a relationship between the two.


Originally this blog was called “Truth Matters” and had the subtitle, “Accuracy, Politics, and the Media.” Many of my early articles factchecked and analyzed politicians and the press.

In late 2011, I shifted my focus to covering the stories of political prisoners in the US and around the world. However, I still covered the political process, including the 2012 U.S. presidential election, as well as the news-media.

In August 2013, I began covering the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and the stories of the prisoners detained there.

And late last year, I wrote a series of articles about the experiences of people with less common gender identities and sexual orientations.

Most viewed articles

The table below shows the posts that have received the most views over the history of National Security Stories. 

Most viewed articles

The most viewed story critiqued a video called “The Story of Stuff,” which was shown in one of my college classes. I described the backstory to that post on the first anniversary of this blog.

The next post was an attempt to solve a puzzle provided by the creators of H+, a complex and non-linear Science Fiction drama on YouTube. The show explored the imagined consequences of a world where an implant allows people to access the internet with their mind.

The article on the Broadcasting Board of Governors discussed the news organizations funded by the US government that broadcast to foreign audiences.

Three posts tell the stories of Guantanamo prisoners. Al Sawah is an Egyptian who became a valuable informant for the US military. He was released earlier this year. Hassan Bin Attash was a child soldier captured in Pakistan. Abdul Abu Rahman was a low-level Al Qaeda operative.

It seems odd that these specific articles are so widely read. I think some of my other Guantanamo stories were more interesting or better written. Among the prisoners I have profiled so far, Obaidullah, Bostan Karim, Ravil Mingazov and Omar Abdulayev are most likely to have been at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The high value detainees, who held top positions in global terrorist networks, such as Khaled Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, have fascinating stories. Detainees whose cases raise novel legal questions, such as Al Nashiri and Al Bahlul, are interesting as well.

Referring Websites

Readers have found my blog from a variety of sources.

Traffic Sources
Referring Sites

Google and Facebook are the most common ways people have discovered my posts. 

Others have found them through links I placed in the comment sections of various websites including the Huffington Post, Public Policy Poling and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

Search Terms

Below are the most common search terms people have used to find my articles on google. 

americans imprisoned abroad
james hitselberger
snl political skits 2012
story of stuff lies
the story of stuff lies
ahmad mohammed security
does media reflect truth
the united states i

Several relate to specific articles including Americans Imprisoned Abroad, James Hitselberger, who was charged with disclosing of classified information, The Greatest SNL Political Skits from the Past Four Years, and Lies, Omissions and Sensationalism: The Story of Stuff.

Other search terms, such as, “ahmad mohammed security,” “does media reflect truth” and “the united states i" are a bit more ambiguous.

A Worldwide Audience

Blogger also tracks views by country. 

Pageviews by Country
United States
United Kingdom

National Security Stories has received a total of 15,867 views during the 5 years and 4 months it has existed. That means 62 percent of its views are from Americans. The rest are from readers in other countries around the world.

Thank you for taking the time to read my articles. I appreciate it very much.

While many people read my articles, few leave comments. If you find any of my articles interesting or informative, let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issues covered here.