Top 10 Most Read Stories of 2015

Sex sells, and so does stupidity and guns

As 2015 draws to a close, we take a look back at our most popular stories of the year.

In compiling this list, we’ve passed over some of our most clicked-on packages – like our recently wrapped breakfast taco tournament, The Thrilla in the Tortilla, First Plates restaurant awards, and Austin Music Awards – to focus on individual stories. And in order to present a more accurate snapshot of the year, we’ve eliminated any stories not filed in 2015. The sudden, sometimes befuddling resurgence of years-old stories – for instance, Jordan Smith’s 2006 investigative story about a murder tied to the Bandidos Motorcycle Club, back in the news after May’s Waco shootout; perennial favorite “The Brunch Bunch” (SEO liquid gold); and four slim paragraphs on shirataki noodles from 2008 – is another list altogether.

So without further ado, we revisit the stories that had everyone talking.

Monty Oum (photo by John Anderson)

1) “Rooster Teeth Community Mourns Death of Monty Oum”

The creator of the hugely popular anime series RWBY, Monty Oum died suddenly at the age of 33 from “an extreme allergic reaction to a routine medical procedure.” Fans took to our boards to grieve – and anti-vaxxers took the opportunity to put in their own two cents.

Illustration by Jason Stout

2) “Simulated Sex”

This breakout feature from our SXSW Interactive preview explored the expanding market for “cutting-edge smut for virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift.” Former adult film star Kayden Kross expressed some doubt over the burgeoning virtual pornography field: “I mean, it would have to be some damn good technology."

3) "Breakfast With Bigots"

This story – and its sting – is still fresh: In early December, two hijab-wearing Muslim women were the targets of Islamophobic comments while waiting for a table at Kerbey Lane Cafe, and a manager declined to remove the insulting party from the restaurant. Kerbey Lane CEO Mason Ayer took responsibility for not training employees on “how to handle a heated, hate-filled assault by one of our guests directed at another” and vowed to make that training a priority going forward.

4) “Phillip Perea Commits Suicide”

Just before he committed suicide outside New York City’s News Corp. building, former Fox News employee Phillip Perea handed out fliers detailing how Fox News – and specifically Austin’s Fox affiliate, KTBC – had ruined his career. Shortly after his dismissal in May of 2014, Perea approached the Chronicle about reporting on the “quid pro quo dynamic between FOX 7 and the police chief [Art Acevedo].” Chase Hoffberger reported:

“My career is over,” [Perea] wrote when asked if he wanted to associate his name with the accusations. “I have nothing left to lose.”

A scene from the Memorial weekend flooding (photo by John Anderson)

5) “Memorial Weekend Flood Assistance”

You can’t exactly file this one under good news, but at least its heart is in the right place: Readers flocked to our list of resources for those in need after the Memorial Weekend floods – and for those who wanted to lend a helping hand. (The nonprofits listed no doubt are looking for year-end donations, nudge nudge.)

photo by Jana Birchum

6) “Violet Crown Trail Opens”

Austinites sure do love their green spaces, and readers flipped for Robyn Ross’ August story on the first six miles of a planned 30 miles of trail newly open to the public.

Illustration by Jason Stout

7) “High Stress at EMS”

In May, Chase Hoffberger took a deep-dive investigative look at the current state of Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services in the wake of several personnel suicides and staffing shortages.

photo by John Anderson

8) “The Hero Returns”

Jessica Luther spoke with former Longhorn star quarterback Vince Young about his second act working at the university's Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

9) “Playback: Holy Mountain and Red 7 in Danger of Losing Leases”

Playback columnist Kevin Curtin broke the story of two Red River Cultural District clubs struggling to meet skyrocketing rent increases, an all too common refrain, especially in the super-competitive Downtown market. Eventually they both shuttered (along with other significant Austin music venues Red Eyed Fly, Trailer Space, the Roost, and Austin Music Hall), but Red 7 and Red Eyed Fly were resurrected as joint effort The Sidewinder.

photo by John Anderson

10) “Mock Shooting Now Just Near UT Campus”

In a year the entire nation went gun crazy, Austin was no different. This story about an ill-conceived mock mass shooting demonstration – first intended by gun advocates to be held on the UT campus (famously the site of an actual mass shooting in 1966), then moved just off campus – went viral when counterprotesters announced their intention to stage a concurrent “mass farting demonstration” in response.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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Top 10s, most read stories, Monty Oum, VR porn, Violet Crown Trail, Phillip Perea, Vince Young, Kerbey Lane Cafe, open carry, EMS

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