Kansas Reflector published hundreds of opinion columns in 2022. But which ones attracted the most readers? Today, we're listing the Top 10 for 2022. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
Every morning of 2022, Kansas Reflector published an opinion column. Some of these pieces resonated with thousands upon thousands of readers.
Others, um, didn’t.
But as we wrap up the year with twine and prepare to store it in the basement along with the rest of recorded history, let’s seize the moment to look back. These 10 columns were the year’s most read, as measured by Reflector website metrics. Other columns may have seen huge readership when published elsewhere, or generated titanic engagement on social media. Still others may have been my personal favorites or shared by our national partners.
They can take care of themselves.
From 10th place to first, here are the year’s most-read opinion pieces. Unless otherwise noted, I wrote them.
Hayden’s pronouncements on voter fraud and law enforcement this year caught the eye of Reflector readers in our news and opinion columns. So, for that matter, did the decisions of Emporia State University President Ken Hush. Combine them into one piece and you have this year’s 10th-place entry.
If you’re former secretary of state and Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo, though, those words are “talented,” “savvy,” and “capable statesman.”
I decided against running many pieces on the Russia-Ukrainian war. National outlets offered extensive coverage and analysis, and I thought Reflector resources should go elsewhere. Taking all that into account, however, Mike Pompeo’s ill-timed praise warranted special mention.
8: The forgotten history of Memorial Day grew up in aftermath of Civil War (May 30, by Richard Gardiner)
I often run pieces from The Conversation, a national clearinghouse of academic opinion pieces, on Saturdays or holidays. I dug up this column from 2018 to run on Memorial Day, and a surprising number of readers clicked through.
That’s a moral outrage, and state legislators can fix the problem by immediately passing a bill in the House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice. Thankfully, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 2003 makes the law unenforceable. But as long as it remains on the books, the LGBTQ community in Kansas has a giant target on their backs, painted there by state leaders
Kansas’ sorry history with sodomy laws has annoyed and disgusted me since my college days. Writing about it at the start of the 2022 session felt a bit like yelling in the wilderness, but I was surprised to see this column show up in the year’s most-read list. I suppose the unconstitutional law annoys and disgusts others as well.
That’s why I was delighted to see last week that the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to stop changing our clocks back and forth twice a year, by making daylight saving time permanent. The only downside was the vote happened while I took a few days off, although that time was useful in adjusting my own increasingly creaky body to the gruesome realities of springing forward for the spring.
Everyone hates moving their clocks forward and back. I don’t write columns with the sole goal of generating website traffic, but I suspected many would appreciate hearing about a U.S. Senate vote to axe standard time. What’s more, a Kansas legislator had advocated for the same change. The readership numbers don’t lie: Folks want to end time changes.
They’re lying an awful lot.
As we crash into the top half of the most-read list, our first abortion amendment column appears. I didn’t plan to write this piece when campaigning began, but the blizzard of falsehoods surrounding the “Value Them Both” amendment over the summer drove me to it. As the column notes, opinions on abortion rights vary. But we should have a common understanding of the facts first. Thankfully, voters saw through the untruths and rejected the amendment by nearly 20 percentage points.
4: For this Kansas pharmacist, one word changes everything (Feb. 21, by Gregory Burger)
That line is part of the solemn oath I took as a pharmacist more than 30 years ago. I chose pharmacy while still in high school, after a long hospital stay where I witnessed firsthand how health care professionals truly change lives.
If you told me at the beginning of 2022 that only one of the year’s 10 most-read opinion columns would be even indirectly about COVID-19, I wouldn’t have believed you. Yet here we are, with a contributed piece about legislation that would have required pharmacists to dispense ineffective remedies for the virus. Does this mean the pandemic has ended? Somehow I suspect not.
I’m not sure why this column about the abortion amendment vote made the Top 10 list instead of my initial reactions from five days before. Perhaps readers noticed the word “dumb” in the headline. Perhaps they enjoyed direct quotes from anti-choice advocates desperate to spin the result. Perhaps they simply wanted some homespun Kansas analysis of a surprise national story.
This simple piece, which outlined two state constitutional amendments on the November ballot, was my most read of the year. I wish that was because of my pointed prose, but I suspect it was because would-be voters wanted to know more about the danged amendments. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
1: Emporia State University is about to suspend tenure. Here’s why you should care. (Sept. 13, by Max McCoy)
It would be an improper firing, a violation of my First Amendment rights as a university professor, an infringement of the ability to pursue my discipline and state the truth as I see it in the marketplace of ideas. The given reason might be restructuring, a need for change, a response to a crisis, or even “conduct.” But I fear the underlying reason for my firing, and that of my colleagues, would be that it’s a political maneuver to end tenure.
Author, journalist and professor Max McCoy wrote weekly columns for the Reflector through early March. He then transitioned to writing occasionally, but I doubt he expected that he would be the subject of this unforgettable piece from September. The attack on tenure and subsequent firings at Emporia State hit home across Kansas and the nation. No one put the situation into words better than Max.
This list only covers the barest handful of columns — less than 3% of those the Reflector ran in 2022.
I want to thank everyone who contributed this year, those dozens upon dozens of Kansans who made their voices. You may have written weekly or only once or twice, but you contributed to the civic dialogue. Thanks to everyone who read, and to everyone who sent emails or commented on social media.
This virtual town square meant the world to me over the past 12 months. I hope you enjoyed it, too.
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