La Jolla Institute for Immunology
Exterior of the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. Image from the institute’s brochure

The past year has been a tumultuous one, from Trump supporters storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 to the hasty evacuations from Afghanistan and seemingly never-ending mutations of the coronavirus.

But the most-read news reports of 2021 in San Diego were about developments very close to home: how to stay safe amid COVID-19, the California drought, and local tragedies.

Readership on the Internet is notoriously fickle, with articles going “viral” unexpectedly. With that caveat, here are the top 10 from 2021 on Times of San Diego.

The most-read article of the year reported on a study by researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology that found nearly all COVID-19 survivors retain immune cells that can fight re-infection for at least eight months and likely longer. This was viewed nearly 120,000 times.

Second was the recent tragic crash of a medical evacuation jet on approach to Gillispie Field, killing two pilots and two nurses. Nearly 55,000 views have been counted so far.

Third was an article originally published in 2017 about how to set up an office in a bedroom. Clearly this was an important concern as the pandemic raged. There were over 43,000 views of this article in 2021.

A bedroom office provides a safe location for work amid the pandemic. Courtesy Stylingbologet, original photo on Houzz

Rebecca Zahau died in a Coronado mansion in 2011, and her story continues to be widely followed. The latest development was a new day in court for her family to argue that she did not commit suicide but was killed by her boyfriend. There were over 37,000 views of this article, which is fourth on our list.

Fifth was a brief news report in July about monsoonal moisture expected over Southern California. Its popularity reflected concerns over a growing drought across the state. There were nearly 35,000 views of this report.

Local tragedy always touches a community’s heart. That was the case with a 57-year-old man found dead in an Oceanside homeless encampment in June. He was former Los Angeles gang member turned author Kody Scott. The report of his identification was the sixth most-read article of the year with over 32,000 views.

Also tragic, and the seventh most-read report, was a story about beloved KFMB News 8 anchor Barbara-Lee Edwards and her long recovery at home after a life-threatening brain bleed. That report received nearly 30,000 views.

Sex and crime close to home are always disturbing. This was the case of a porn actor and producer who recruited young women to appear in videos for the San Diego-based website GirlsDoPorn. The report of Ruben Andre Garcia’s sentencing to 20 years in prison for sex trafficking drew 29,500 views and was the eighth most-read article.

Ruben Andre Garcia. Image via XBiZ.com

Ninth on our list is another tragic report. It was the identification and brief biography of Elena Lisowski, a 44-year-old woman whose body was found floating in Lake Murray in February. Readers viewed that article nearly 22,000 times.

The list ends with a twist on the California drought. It was a report about how marijuana producers are stealing water to keep their illegal crops healthy. That was viewed over 21,000 times.

The past year was a sad one for many in San Diego. Here’s hoping for a different top 10 list in 2022.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.