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The Most-Read Stories of 2020 – The New York Times

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What were the most-read stories in The New York Times this year? You may not be surprised to learn that two topics — the election and the pandemic — dominate the list, accounting for 90 of the top 100 entries. Here’s a selection of those stories, plus some other subjects that drew big reader interest.
The election: More than half of the top 30 most-read pieces in The Times in 2020 were about the election, with the presidential results page at No. 1. A few spots behind: the ever-popular, if somewhat dreaded, election night needle at No. 4.
The pandemic: The second and third most-read articles were our coronavirus trackers, one for the U.S. and one for the world. People also wanted to know how the virus got out (No. 48) and where they were in the line to get a vaccine (No. 53). Also of note: this article about a man who stockpiled hand sanitizer hoping to sell it for a profit, which came in at No. 13.
Black Lives Matter: Another theme in this year’s top 100 was the protest movement for racial justice, set off by the police killings of Breonna Taylor (No. 26) and George Floyd (No. 51).
Kobe Bryant: Before the pandemic entered our everyday consciousness, fans said goodbye to the N.B.A. star, who died in a helicopter crash along with his daughter Gianna and seven others in January. The Times’s article on the crash is No. 36 on the list.
Killer insects: Sightings of the Asian giant hornet prompted fears that the vicious insect could establish itself in the U.S. and devastate bee populations. “Murder hornets” were No. 24 on the list.
Other topics: The U.S. government’s U.F.O. unit (No. 96); The Times’s investigation into President Trump’s taxes (No. 14); the Ukrainian passenger jet shot down in Iran (No. 50). And one story continued its popularity: The 36 questions that lead to love, originally published in 2015, finished at No. 62.
President Trump signed the $900 billion economic relief bill last night, five days after he criticized the legislation and demanded changes. The measure, part of a larger federal spending bill, will also avert a government shutdown.
The stimulus bill will provide a round of $600 relief payments to most Americans. It also restores two federal unemployment programs that lapsed over the weekend and extends an eviction moratorium that was set to expire this week. But the delay means millions of Americans will probably lose a week of benefits. Here’s what it means for you.
The House still plans to vote today to send $2,000 stimulus checks to adults, one of Trump’s demands. Republican lawmakers have opposed bigger relief checks.
Canada, France, Japan, Norway, Spain and Sweden have reported small numbers of infections involving a new variant of the virus, most of them linked to travel from Britain. The strain appears to be more transmissible but not more deadly or resistant to vaccines.
New York State is investigating whether a network of urgent care clinics fraudulently obtained vaccines and provided them to members of the public who were not yet entitled to receive the shots.
What is it like to get the vaccine? Some people said they felt nothing afterward; others described headaches, fatigue or a sore arm. Those side effects are expected, experts say — and a sign that the shot is working.
A Chinese court sentenced a citizen journalist who documented the early days of the coronavirus outbreak to four years in prison, sending a warning to those challenging the government’s narrative of the pandemic.
Italy has turned to flower power to help spread the vaccine message. An architect has designed primrose-themed pavilions where the shots will be given, but not everybody is thrilled with the idea.
Federal officials said a 63-year-old Tennessee man, Anthony Warner, blew himself up in a Christmas Day bombing in Nashville that injured three people. Here’s what we know about the explosion.
Two decades after their own brutal conflict, Eritrea and Ethiopia are working together to wage war on Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, a mutual adversary. Eritrean soldiers have rampaged through Tigrayan refugee camps, witnesses said.
Video footage showed a woman falsely accusing a Black 14-year-old of stealing her phone at a hotel in Manhattan over the weekend. The teenager’s father, a prominent jazz musician, shared the video, which fueled concerns about racial profiling.
The Home Depot has recalled more than 190,000 ceiling fans because of reports that blades could detach while spinning.
Trilobites: How did scientists know they had discovered a new group of blue whales? The whales were singing a song no one had ever heard.
A Reconstruction: No cameras captured the last minutes of Breonna Taylor’s life. The Times built a 3-D model of the scene, piecing together sequences of events to show how poor planning and shoddy police work led to a fatal outcome.
From Opinion: Some big tech companies are leaving California, fleeing wildfires and higher taxes. But Silicon Valley’s obituary has been written prematurely before, Prof. Margaret O’Mara of the University of Washington argues.
Lives Lived: Reginald Foster was a former plumber’s apprentice from Wisconsin who swore like a sailor. That made him an unusual presence at the Vatican, where he served as the Catholic Church’s foremost expert in Latin. He died at 81.
Jon Huber, a pro wrestler known as Luke Harper and Brodie Lee, had a soft-spoken intensity in the ring. He battled other wrestling stars, using “aggressive offense and demented mind games,” World Wrestling Entertainment said. He died at 41.
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If you are looking for recommendations this week, several Times critics and editors have ideas on culture to check out before the end of 2020.
Earth Teach Me Quiet,” a slowly surging choral piece by Eriks Esenvalds, is a perfect showcase for the purity — but also the passion — of the Crossing, an amazing contemporary music choir. — Zachary Woolfe, classical music editor
On Pointe,” a documentary about the School of American Ballet, is about dance, but it’s bigger than that. Through these young people, we see courage and artistry, along with the determination to know as much about ballet as their brains and bodies can hold. It’s a rush. — Gia Kourlas, dance critic
The show “I Hate Suzie” feels like a dysfunctional sibling to “Fleabag.” It lets its main character, a pop star played by Billie Piper, be messy and flawed in a way female characters aren’t always allowed to be. The shifts between ironic comedy and sincere drama make every episode a surprise. — Maya Phillips, arts critic
The journalist Barton Gellman’s recent book, “Dark Mirror,” is thrilling and wryly funny — ably transporting you for a moment from a cruel year that is finally coming to an end. But he also opens up crucial questions about government power and the surveillance state for anyone ready to look ahead. — Jennifer Szalai, book critic
I like to give poetry collections as gifts around this time, and this year, I’m wrapping up copies of Danez Smith’s “Homie.” Smith is one of the most interesting poets writing today, and this book — a paean to friendship, “that first & cleanest love”— is full of new forms and explosive, dismantling joy. Who couldn’t use a little of that? — Parul Sehgal, book critic
This is not your average mac and cheese. It’s rich, silky and perfect for special occasions — or for when you need comfort food.
The artist Jeff Koons has signed on as an instructor for the video platform MasterClass. A Times art critic tuned in.
The pangrams from Friday’s Spelling Bee were nondairy and ordinary. Today’s puzzle is above — or you can play online if you have a Games subscription.
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Rocker Glenn of the Eagles (four letters).
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — Claire
P.S. The word “vaxxies” — selfies people take while getting a coronavirus vaccine — appeared for the first time in The Times yesterday, as noted by the Twitter bot @NYT_first_said.
You can see today’s print front page here.
Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about how a small bar in California is surviving the pandemic. On the latest Book Review podcast, Times editors and critics answer listener questions.
Ian Prasad Philbrick contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at
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