Headlines about COVID-19 didn’t fade in 2022. Even two years into the pandemic, articles about the disease proved to be the most-read Deseret News stories of 2022.

But in between the coverage of symptoms and variants and masks, our readers found interest in people doing extraordinary things. They followed the drama of shows like “The Chosen” and “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.” They read faith-inspiring stories and dove into societal issues.

As 2022 comes to a close, here’s a look at some of the most-read stories on Deseret.com.


Omicron

Emerging near the end of 2021, omicron and its subsequent COVID-19 variants dominated the early 2022 news cycle, with persistent questions about symptoms, new variants, reinfections and masks. Below are our top five omicron stories this year:

An illustration of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Michelle Budge, Deseret News

Larger-than-life personalities

Outside of omicron coverage, the most-read Deseret News story in 2022 was the story of Kevin Cooper, an entrepreneur who wrote an autobiography, had plans to expand his 350-acre farm, was working on a movie script and a series of children’s books about business literacy — all by the age of 14. Cooper, who lived in Newcastle, Utah, drowned in a kayaking accident last June.

Another profile that captivated readers was the story of Kim Peek, the “megasavant” who was the inspiration for the movie “Rain Man.” It’s estimated that Peek, who lived in Utah, memorized 12,000 books in his lifetime — including the entirety of Latter-day Saint scripture.

Kim Peek, a megasavant who was the inspiration for the movie “Rain Man” at the Salt Lake City Library in Salt Lake City on July 23, 2009. | Barton Glasser, Deseret News

Television

Several TV shows generated interest with our readers this year, ranging from the long-running quiz show “Jeopardy!” to the drama — onscreen and off — of “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” to true crime stories like “Under the Banner of Heaven” to the faith-based series “The Chosen.”

‘Jeopardy!’

It was a big year for “Jeopardy!” — the show saw an unprecedented number of super-champions in a single season and finally named its permanent hosts. More than a year and a half after longtime host Alex Trebek’s death — and following an unusual scandal for the quiz show — “Jeopardy!” named legendary contestant Ken Jennings and “Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik as its official co-hosts to carry the show into a new era.

Below are our top “Jeopardy!” stories of the year:

Ken Jennings, left, and Mayim Bialik.
In July 2022, Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialiak were named the permanent co-hosts of “Jeopardy!” | Associated Press

Reality TV

Reality competition shows were also of high interest, from the unexpected dropout of a top “American Idol” singer to the criminal activities of “RHOSLC” star Jen Shah.

“The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jen Shah has been sentenced to 78 months in federal prison.
“The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jen Shah leaves the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Shah, who is married to an assistant football coach at the University of Utah, faces federal fraud charges in New York. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

True crime

True crime stories came in droves this year. The “Tinder Swindler,” about a man who manipulated and conned women on the dating app Tinder, and “Under the Banner of Heaven,” which centered on the infamous Lafferty murders in Utah, were of particular interest to readers.

Sharon Weeks pauses while speaking to journalists in Salt Lake City in 2021 about the killing of her sister and niece.
Sharon Weeks pauses while speaking about the killing of her sister and niece to journalists at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Sept. 15, 2021. Weeks’ sister, Brenda Lafferty, and Brenda’s 15-month-old daughter, Erica, were killed by brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, Brenda’s brothers-in-law, in 1984. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

‘The Chosen’

More than 350 million people have watched “The Chosen,” a faith-based drama about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. This year saw a lot of anticipation around Season 3, including the theatrical release of the first two episodes, and a unique — and briefly controversial — ad campaign to help bring even more viewers to the show.

Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus in “The Chosen,” watches while filming.
Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus in “The Chosen,” watches while filming at the Salvation Army’s Camp Hoblitzelle in Midlothian, Texas, on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Fast food

Just as surely as people are watching true crime documentaries, so are they eating fast food — especially Taco Bell. The fast-food chain brought its customers much joy this year, bringing back the Enchirito and Mexican Pizza. McDonald’s even got in on the Taco Bell love, with restaurants in Spain adding nachos to its menu.


Entertainment

Our most-read entertainment coverage — aside from TV news — centered on death, controversy and the Utah film industry.

This year saw the shocking loss of comedic giant and “Full House” star Bob Saget, and Broadway actor Quentin Oliver Lee, who was well known for his role as the Phantom in the 2018 national touring production of “Phantom of the Opera.” “The Mandalorian” star Gina Carano continued to make headlines a year after getting dropped from the show, the movie “Lightyear” — sans Tim Allen — was banned in several countries, and “Yellowstone” star Kevin Costner opened up about his love of filming in Utah.

A cabin that belonged to the “Yellowstone” fictional character Rip Wheeler, played by Cole Hauser, at Thousands Peaks Ranch.
A cabin inside Thousands Peaks Ranch, where the TV series “Yellowstone” was shot, is pictured in Oakley, Summit County, on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. | Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Sports controversies

This year saw a number of local sports controversies — particularly in the college football world. A discussion on body paint surfaced after two female students wore body paint as tops to a University of Utah game. BYU fans, meanwhile, were subjected to what was described as “despicable chants” about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a matchup between Brigham Young University and the University of Oregon. The Latter-day Saint faith was also the subject of a controversial halftime show during BYU’s game against Stanford University.

Fans in the Utah student section wave a banner before a game against Southern Utah on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.
Fans in the Utah Utes student section wave a banner before their team plays the Southern Utah Thunderbirds in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. The Utes won 73-7. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Bizarre news

Bizarre news is the gift that keeps on giving. Throughout the year, some of our more unusual stories — like the one about 1.4 billion pounds of cheese being stored in a cave underneath Springfield, Missouri — would resurface in popularity. Readers dug this and other strange stories up time and time again.


Family life and parenting

Stories about family life and parenting, particularly understanding generational differences, resonated with our readers. The long-term impact of birth order on siblings’ and other familial relationships, as well as Gen Z language and traditions, were especially popular.


Religion

Several faith-based stories made the cut for our most-read articles this year. Among the most popular was a story about the discovery of a potential image of Joseph Smith — the first president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — in a forgotten family heirloom, and the various accounts and roles of women in the New Testament.

Eliza Anderson, Deseret News

Questions, answered

Day-to-day questions — like the purpose of airplane mode on your phone and how to play Wordle spinoffs — were popular this year, along with questions about specific news events like the Canada trucker strikes and the cryptocurrency collapse.

An illustration of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.
Photo Illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News

Issues

The tumultuous housing market, economic inequality and the science behind essential oils were some of our most popular issue-driven stories this year.

A “For Sale” sign and “Sale Pending” sign are pictured in Salt Lake City on Oct. 18, 2021.
A “for sale” sign and “sale pending” sign are pictured in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. Salt Lake City ranks second in the nation for the largest increase in home-sale prices according to a recent RE/MAX National Housing Report. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Opinion/perspective

Our most popular perspective pieces primarily came from the entertainment sector. Perspectives on the inaccuracies of “Under the Banner of Heaven” and the politically divisive 2022 Oscars — which will forever be remembered for Will Smith’s slap — critiqued Hollywood culture. The ubiquity of soda shops in Utah and a response to “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling’s comment about Joseph Smith and the golden plates also generated enormous interest.

Below were our top five perspective pieces of the year:

Alex Cochran, Deseret News