2019's Top Stories Shed Light On Tragic Events And Complex Issues
After a white Fort Worth police officer fatally shot a black woman through the window of her home, North Texans wanted information and answers.
Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when a neighbor called police to do a welfare check at her home. Officers' presence in her yard late at night may have frightened her. She went to a window. Seeing a figure inside a room, officer Aaron Dean shot Jefferson. Her nephew was in the room when it happened.
The article about this October 12 tragedy was KERA News' most-read story of 2019.
In April, reporter Stella Chávez was the first to break law enforcement news of a different kind: the largest U.S. worksite ICE raid in 10 years. That story became our second most-read of the year.
Chávez received a tip on Twitter about Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents outside a building in Plano. By the time she arrived, they were on the way to Allen, but she didn't know exactly where. She followed a helicopter in her car, hoping it would lead her to their destination. It did.
ICE agents raided a technology repair company, arresting 284 employees on charges of working in the U.S. illegally.
The other stories that round out the year's 10 most-read show our community's hunger for information after tragedy, guidance on civic processes and context for complex issues.
No. 3 — America's mass shooting count
Just about every news outlet in the country reported on the El Paso shootings. What was different about our third most-read story, "The El Paso Shooting Is The 249th Mass Shooting Of 2019" by the Guns & America reporting initiative, was that it helped readers understand how to situate this particular tragedy among the many.
No. 4 — November voter guide
In November, Texans cast votes for a slew of county and local political races and initiatives — and 10 state constitutional amendments. Casting a vote itself isn't hard. It's thoroughly understanding what the choices mean that takes time — along with remembering logistics like where to go and what to bring.
We hope our fourth most-read article of the year, a voter guide to the November 2019 elections, helped.
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No. 5 — A TexRail guide
Speaking of guides, our No. 5 article was an explainer on how TexRail works, plus what the cars are like, where the stations are, where to park and the cost of fare.
The new commuter train, which runs from Fort Worth to DFW Airport, opened in January.
No. 6 — New Texas gun laws
Eight new gun laws went into effect in Texas on Sept. 1. Guns & America offered a rundown of those laws, which include allowing Texans to carry guns in places of worship, unless otherwise banned by those places with signage, and carry guns without a license during a state of disaster.
The laws also detail several new prohibitions — not against carrying or owning a firearm, but against making it more difficult to do so. For instance, landlords can't ban renters and their guests from carrying guns in lease agreements.
No. 7 — How to define 'mass shooting'
It's difficult to emotionally process one tragic event after another. That's made even more challenging when there is no official, shared definition around the mass violence phenomenon in the U.S.
Our No. 7 story, "What Is A Mass Shooting? Why We Struggle To Agree On How Many There Were This Year" from the Guns & America initiative, sought to at least help readers understand why there's often such a lack of clarity on the tragic topic.
No. 8 — How to find therapists of color
“‘I just want to confirm, are you African American?’” Clients will sometimes ask Dr. Stacia’ Alexander that over the phone in their quest to find a black therapist.
The licensed professional counselor in Dallas was one of the people who informed our February story, "How More People Of Color Are Finding Therapists Who Look Like Them." It highlighted the Therapy for Black Girls online directory and the deep reasons it's important to a lot of clients that the mental health professional sitting across from them looks like them.
No. 9 — Fatal crane crash
In June, Kiersten Smith and her fiance Eric Ridenhour were enjoying a relaxing Sunday in their second floor apartment on the northeast cusp of downtown Dallas. She was watching Grey's Anatomy and he was making grilled cheese and tomato soup. It was a stormy, windy day.
Then a crane crashed through their apartment, killing Smith and injuring several other people at Elan City Lights apartments.
She and Ridenhour were to be married this past September. "She was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life," he said.
No. 10 — Dallas mayoral candidates guide
Dallas had nine — nine — candidates for the May 4 mayoral election. There were 13 declared candidates at one point.
Our Dallas mayoral candidate guide was the tenth most-read article of 2019 and, hopefully, it offered on-the-fence Dallas voters the information they needed to feel confident about their choice.
The election whittled the number down to two — Texas Rep. Eric Johnson and Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs — with Johnson winning the runoff election in June.
We couldn't have covered these stories without the support of our fellow North Texans. Thank you for listening to, reading and trusting the work of KERA.