By David Arkin, Local Media Association 

As the end of the year nears — can I get a hurray!? — your social media networks and favorite sites will be filled with lists on everything that was 2017.

Lists for end of the year is nothing new. It’s been done for years. Traditionally, it’s been a look at the top stories of the year, usually voted on by a newsroom in some way.

But year-end lists have changed over the years. Sure, it’s not hard to find those top stories of the year posts, but digital tools, data and creativity have made year-end lists something newsrooms simply have to plan for now.

And the good news is, it’s not even December yet so you’ve got time to do it.

Here are a few ways you can have fun and create a little engagement with your year-end lists.

Ask readers

Ask readers what they think are the biggest stories of the year (consider just a simple social media call out) and then ask readers to vote. It would be interesting to see how the newsroom list of the biggest stories compares to yours.

Stories that touched the heart

News organizations tell amazing human interest stories every week. Pick the five or 10 that grabbed your heart the most.

New businesses

Which new spots popped up this year that the community is still talking about? A new restaurant, boutique shop? If there’s enough activity in your community, break those out into categories: Restaurants, shopping, etc.

They said it

Every week, newsrooms are likely surprised by something someone said on the record. Document the best of those quotes.

To watch in 2018

Who are the movers and shakers in your community worth watching next year? Write short profiles on each noting why and what they’re expected to do next year.

All of those metrics

You likely could get a full week’s worth of content off of them. (1) Most popular stories of the year. (2) Most shared stories of the year. (3) Most liked stories and photos of the year. (4) Most retweeted stories of the year (5) Most popular hashtags. (6) Most popular search terms.

Have your visual journalists share their favorites

There are lots of ways you can do this. (1) Have a photographer/videographer write about what is was like to capture their favorite photos/videos of the year including behind-the-scene details on what it was like to shoot the assignment. (2) Let readers vote on their favorite photos of the year by your visual journalist.  (3) Have readers submit their favorite photos of the year, shot by them.

The head scratchers

There are those people and situations that likely made you really scratch your head this year. Maybe it’s a foolish politician or a dumb criminal story. Go ahead and recap the ones you just couldn’t believe.

What we hope happens in 2018

Using your editorial voice, share hopes and aspirations for 2018 in your community with a list of things you hope happen that in one way or another, advance your community. This doesn’t need to be all sunshine. There may be negative things your community needs to overcome. Consider this your editorial roadmap for your community in 2018.

Project the big 2018 stories

It may not take super powers to know what will happen in 2018 in your town. Break down the five biggest issues in your town with predictions from those in the know on what they believe the possible outcomes might be.

Build a landing page

If you are doing numerous lists then make sure you have a nice landing page for readers to discover all of that content. This one from Time does a great job compiling their work.