Sometime next week, the counter on the front page of the Vinton Today web site (those medium blue numbers at the bottom right corner of the light blue banner behind our name) will turn to: 8,000,000.

It was February 7 of last year when we marked our 5 millionth page view.

That means in less than one year, you and others from all over Vinton and beyond read our stories more than three million times.

What's really exciting about those numbers in 2013 is that you helped us achieve these numbers while reading about virtually all good news.

"Bad news sells papers" is an old but true newspaper adage.

People pay more attention to the news when bad things happen. Our statistics page can verify that. The storm of 2008, deadly accidents, fires, and a variety of crime cases all cause our readership numbers to rise noticeably.

One specific example: May 6, 2011. I went to the federal courthouse to find out about a latest criminal investigation; while I was there, where no cell phones were allowed, someone called in a bomb threat to a local school.

So, I drove back to Vinton, stopped at the school to do that story, then wrote about the crime case.

An hour after we posted that story, at least two TV stations -- who learned about the court case from our web site -- sent vans to Vinton.

While it made us proud to know that we have that much attention and respect from other regional media, we would prefer it if stories of a more pleasant nature earned as much attention as those not-so-good ones.

This year, that happened.

You read more than three million stories in 2013, without any huge "bad news stories." No wind storms, no floods (although we did have a flood scare in late May), no big federal criminal investigations, no tornadoes.

Unlike previous years, 2013 brought mostly good news to the Vinton area. The Vinton-Shellsburg boys basketball team and Jazz Bands enjoyed record years, and competed at the State level. The Iowa Firemen's Convention brought thousands to Vinton in September, along with some very interesting and inspiring stories. For the second straight year, Vinton had a local "Nine Who Care" volunteer honored by KCRG. A few local authors published books, the baseball coach earned his 500th win, and Celebration Park took shape in a neighborhood that had been destroyed by the Flood of 2008.

On a couple of occasions, the ratio of good news to bad news was so heavily in favor of good news that I sent messages to law enforcement authorities to ask if things were really as quiet as they seem.

The answer: Yes, and we hope it stays that way.

There were, of course, some stories of the bad news variety. A drunk driver killed a family of three on Highway 30. A few of our neighbors have experienced fires, accidents, illnesses or other calamities. We lost a few old friends, and saw some younger ones move away.

Yet for the most part, most days brought nothing but good news.

And every day, just under 9,000 Vinton today stories get read.

It's too soon to tell, of course, what kind of news 2014 will bring.

But 2013 has taught us that you will read about it here, first.

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