As you boot up your computer bleary-eyed this morning, groping about for your cup of coffee, I'm going to be that peppy friend across the table who is just so GOSH DARN EXCITED it's the New Year! And do you know WHY I'm so excited?! [C'mon ask me, ask me!!] Because it's the first New Year you can start your day with Huffington Post CANADA. YES! How sweet is that, eh? Canada news, Canada blogs, Canada celebs, Canada style, cute Canadian kitties on YouTube...
And we are not even a YEAR old yet! Just seven months! In baby time, that would mean we would still be grappling to pick up carrot-pieces off our high chair table. The more ambitious of us would be crawling. But no, Huffpost Canada is up and running FULL SPEED.
How full-speed you ask?
[I know you would ask if you could raise your voice above a pained mumble.]
Let us count the ways.
1) In that short space of time, we have surpassed the readership of many of our competitors *cough* National Post *cough* and are breathing down the necks of others *cough* Globe and Mail and CBC *cough.* We are now at 2.3 million unique visitors per month and growing. In November alone, our page views reached 30.7 million. Meanwhile on Facebook we have 15,700 followers at this writing (but that will change even by the time you are reading this)--and on Twitter, 10,220 followers and counting.
Much if not most of this amazing growth can be credited to our original reporting and our Huffington Post bloggers.
2) Of the biggest stories of 2011, you read about most of them here first. This from our political editor Michael Bolen:
Our star Ottawa Bureau Chief Althia Raj not only broke many big stories this year, but also covered important ones neglected elsewhere. Check out her Facebook page for all the latest.
Some of the big stories Althia broke?
News of the Canadian Navy and Air Force getting a royal name change; CBC cuts likely to be 10 per cent; the misleading phone calls in Irwin Cotler's riding; and Stephen Harper getting his way on repainting the VIP jet.
3) And it's not all seriousness around here. Huffposter readers got the best of the lighter side of Canadian politicas as well. Some of our favorites:
Pat Martin's Twitter Tirade;
MP expenses; Peter Mackay and Condi romance rumours; MP celebrates gun registry vote with finger guns; How much do you really know about Stephen Harper?; Rob Ford does ballet; and MP David Anderson's Wheat Board Video: "You're Talking Eskimo."
4) We also launched two regularly updated blog-style political pages: Eric Grenier, the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covers the latest poll numbers and trends on The Pulse; Althia and Michael cover Parliament Hill on Inside Ottawa.
All this and coverage of provincial elections in half of Canada's provinces over the last few months!!
[Wait, I have more to go. You look like you could use a couple of aspirin?]
5) So, if that weren't enough, our amazing and growing cast of Huffpost bloggers have not only provided original and insightful commentary on major events of the day, but created international firestorms over issues that might have otherwise gone neglected--most notably Charlie Angus' blog for us on Appawatiskat, What if They Declared an Emergency and No One Came? That single blog, highlighting the native reserve's plight with videos and photos, went viral around the world and opened a national conversation--finally--on our national aboriginal policies. Let's hope it continues--we sure will do our best to keep it going here.
And where else--at any Canadian site or publication--would you find Conrad Black elbowing for space with Maude Barlow, Peter Worthington sitting next to Brian McKenna, Kathryn Marshall beside Elizabeth May, or David Frum breaking blog bread with David Suzuki? Our commitment to posting interesting voices from all sides of the political spectrum will continue, along with seeking out the smartest and most informed commentators on major current events--just as we did in 2011. Huffpost readers will also be treated to more original series and exclusive excerpts in 2012--from a spectacular look inside the crimes of the late mass-murderer Clifford Olson; an excerpt from Sally Bedell's Smith upcoming book, Elizabeth The Queen; to more thoughtful, extended features such as Douglas Anthony Cooper's recent "The Genocide Libel."
6) In the meantime [still with me? Seriously, get some aspirin...] it was an unbelievable year news-wise, from the Vancouver Riots to the Royal Visit to Jack Layton to Hurricane Irene to Gaddafi to Steve Jobs to Occupy to WE Day to EU debt crisis to Attawapiskat and so much more.
We launched the important, ongoing investigative series, "Mind the Gap," which chronicles the growing divide between Canada's rich and poor--with excellent original reporting by Daniel Tencer, Rachel Mendleson and others.
Among breaking/exclusive news stories, one we are really proud of was the disappearance of Canadian student Joey Basha; on news, our Christian Cotroneo worked Christmas day (no rest on the Internet!) to get that one filed. Crack news editor Brodie Fenlon and his team were on the Eastern Seaboard earthquake in August the minute it happened, right after the tremors hit Toronto--just as our team has been on top of so many other events.
[Hmm. You're not looking any better. Maybe some Alka-Seltzer as well? Cuz I still have more to tell!!]
7) In entertainment, we had some amazing exclusives from our Spinner.ca sr. music editor Joshua Ostroff, who interviewed Sen. Romeo Dallaire, on the "Communications Revolution" that the senator hopes will galvanize our country's youth into action; Dallaire also trashed the movie "Hotel Rwanda" as revisionist junk. Josh did a number of exclusive interviews, including former PM Paul Martin, who came out in support of Occupy, and slammed the underfunding of aboriginal education as 'absolute discrimination.'
8) You can now have the best of Canadian Living and Style, two verticals (internet-speak for "sections") which have seen highly successful launches in the past few months, offering our readers more original content on the topics they most care about. Some of our best performing Huffpost Living stories, according to editor Rebecca Zamon, tackled important issues: Women in Leadership celebrated the top women in Canada business; we looked at how sexualizing young girls causes long term harm; and revealed the fact that diabetes could affect 552 Million people by 2030 .
And in the features, deptartment, some of our top performers were our own Sarah Kelsey, now Style editor, discussing seven steps to help deal with divorce; for happier folk, we offered seven steps to mindblowing sex . Delaine Moore made out with a married man -- and told his wife about it . And as you detox from the holidays, you might also wish to revisit the top 10 detoxifying foods -- which was a runaway hit.
9) Meanwhile, AOL's travel editor Rod Charles has also launched Sun Escapes, which Canadians might appreciate especially at this time of year. And in this coming month, we will welcome a new baby sister Huffpost in Quebec--Le Huffington Post--under the supreme commandership of editor Patrick White (don't let the name fool you-- 'e ez verree Quebecois).
Whew! WHAT A YEAR! And that's only a sampling. But the biggest shout out goes to YOU, dear Huffpost reader, for making it such a great year and for SHARING US WITH YOUR FRIENDS!! THANK YOU ALL! AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!
[Sorry to raise my voice again--I got carried away. But I think I'm done for the moment. You're looking a lot better. Was it that Alka-- hold on! Did I just see you pour vodka in your orange juice...?! Wait, I have a better suggestion...]
Follow Danielle Crittenden on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dcrittenden1