10 Daily Vox stories that were read far and wide in 2015

The Daily Vox’s most read stories are not necessarily the juiciest, the most newsworthy or the best stories on our site, but the ones that have gained traction with both local and international audiences and those which offer something not to be found anywhere else on the web. AAISHA DADI PATEL rounds up the most read stories on The Daily Vox website for 2015.

The lifeblood of the Daily Vox this year has been politics, student issues and xenophobia and while these have inspired lots of debate on social media forums, they have not – by sheer numbers – been the most read stories on the site.

Our stories about H&M’s marketing material and the global perceptions of the terror attacks in Paris and Beirut were picked up on and shared widely by international audiences.

When international fashion retailer H&M launched in South Africa towards the end of this year, local consumers went mad. Serious fans queued overnight at the Sandton store to get first dibs on the Balmain collaboration. But others were fascinated by something different about the brand – the ethnicity of the models promoting the brand in store.

When fashion blogger Tlalane Letlhaku commented on Twitter saying that “most, if not all your posters in store have no black models” and to “please work on that to appeal to everyone,” the response was “H&M’s marketing has a major impact and it is essential for us to convey a positive image”. You can imagine how that ended.

We also could never have anticipated that our republication of a blog entitled “My people’s deaths in Beirut do not matter as much as my other people’s deaths in Paris” would receive the traction that it did. Writing from Beirut in the wake of the Paris attacks, on how some lives seem to matter more than others, Joey Ayoub argued that it’s necessary for us to have conversations about race, especially when it comes to how much attention we pay to human tragedy around the world.

Uzalo, Uzalo and more Uzalo
SABC1’s hit show Uzalo meanwhile proved to be something our readers couldn’t get enough of – people desperately wanted to discuss this exciting new TV show and to hear what others had to say about it, so they came to us.

We could never have guessed that the new soapie on the block, Uzalo, would get the attention that it does – but evidently fans of the show have been dying to  find a place they could talk about it. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to know what the deal was with Gxhabashe. Was he alive or wasn’t he, and when would he be back? We wondered too – so we wrote about it. The comments sections on these stories remain – for lack of a better word – lit.

Grappling with race, class and domestic work
Race issues - as uncomfortable as they may sometimes be to talk about – also stayed relevant this year. Before #RhodesMustFall even cracked the public consciousness, a story about racism at a Cape Town restaurant spread far and wide. The story told what happened when a black family tried to make reservations at the trendy The Twelve Apostles Hotel’s Azure restaurant in Camps Bay.

One of the first pieces that we ever published on The Daily Vox has also consistently received new reads. A day in the life of a South African maid racked up thousands of views this year, as people read the first-person account of a domestic worker who explains the nature of her work and details her daily struggles. The comments section on this piece also remains one of the messiest on our site – check it out whenever you feel like experiencing some self-loathing.

And sometimes, chatterings in Whatsapp groups and issues that the news mentions and then forgets also continue to capture readers. This accounts for why our round-up of blogger Zahrah Perry’s ramblings and an explanation of what really happened when a young man died after allegedly being denied emergency treatment at two hospitals outside Durban, were so widely read.

Perry came in for some flak when she described Muslim people who make an effort to do good in the holy month of Ramadan as pretentious and judgemental. We rounded up the post and outlined some of the backlash against it and the story soon passed outside of SA’s borders to Muslims elsewhere in the world. The story continued to be read long after Ramadan had ended.

Our resident doctor, Dr Thomas Gray, wrote a lengthy column explaining what really happened and how systemic problems in the healthcare system contributed to a young man’s death and the vilification of innocent doctors. “Irresponsible journalism and the disturbing trend of using doctors as scapegoats for a dysfunctional and backward health system makes me – and all doctors – sick,” wrote Gray.

The reaction to most of these stories surprised us and reiterated why it’s important to listen to what people are talking about. When it comes to public interest, it’s not all hashtags, news and crime.

- Featured image: a newspaper vendor in Monrovia