CNN’s top 100 digital stories of 2023

Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is surrounded by staff, security and journalists as he walks through Statuary Hall after he was ousted at the U.S. Capitol on October 03, 2023 in Washington, DC. McCarthy was removed by a motion to vacate, an effort led by a handful of conservative members of his own party, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is surrounded by staff, security and journalists as he walks through Statuary Hall after he was ousted at the US Capitol on October 3, 2023.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Editor’s Note: Marcus Mabry is CNN’s senior vice president of Digital Editorial and ProgrammingCNN — 

2023 was another unprecedented year — from a former US president being criminally indicted to a Speaker of the House of Representatives being removed — both for the first time the country’s nearly 250-year history.

Beyond politics, the US and Canada witnessed a suspected Chinese spy balloon float across North America; the world watched, listened and waited for any sign from the ill-fated Titan submersible on its voyage to the Titanic wreckage site; and every nation lived through increasingly extraordinary weather related to global climate change.

Through all the tumult, it was deeply gratifying to the journalists and other professionals who brought CNN’s video, audio, text, graphics and interactives to an average digital audience of 163 million people worldwide every month — more than any other English-language news organization, according to ComScore.

Each year, we compile our list of the 100 top stories on CNN Digital based on how many people read, watched or listened to a story.


2023: The year in pictures

There are other ways to measure success, including how long people engage with the content. Chartbeat, a company that keeps track of how well stories connect with audiences, evaluated 39 million pieces of content, totaling 228 billion minutes of engaged time, which is the total amount of time visitors spend actively reading. CNN captured 39 of the top 105 stories for 2023, the most of any digital publisher.

By our count, our top story of the year had almost 18 million readers — the news of the terrifying collapse of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin on January 2 and its aftermath.

Through the year, you spent many hours with CNN, following our live stories that chronicled breaking news as it happened. You also read, watched and listened to CNN on social platforms like TikTok and Instagram and on news aggregators like Apple News and Google Discover.

As you can imagine, the war in Israel and Gaza — and the historic terror attacks that spawned it — dominated the list this year. And, tragically, there were too many mass shootings in America to remember.

But I was also surprised at how many off-beat stories made our list too — reminding us how much you need stories that not only inform, enlighten and explain, but delight, too.

As 2024 promises to be potentially even more unprecedented than 2023, we promise to deliver the essential news to keep you informed, the explanatory analysis to help you understand what the news means and the compelling stories to help you engage with the world, in its myriad moods and colors.

CNN Digital’s top 100 stories of 2023

1. Damar Hamlin’s health update live story January 3, 2023

2. Missing Titanic sub crew killed after ‘catastrophic implosion’ June 22, 2023

3. Lewiston, Maine mass shootings live story October 25, 2023

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger says friend Bruce Willis will be remembered as a ‘great star’ and a ‘kind man’ May 31, 2023

5. Missing Titanic sub search news live story June 21, 2023

6. Nashville elementary school mass shooting live story March 27, 2023

7. Rep. Kevin McCarthy wins House speakership vote live story January 6, 2023

8. Erythritol, an ingredient in stevia, linked to heart attack and stroke, study finds February 27, 2023

9. White homeowner accused of shooting Black teen who went to the wrong house in Kansas City will face 2 felony charges, officials announce April 17, 2023

10. Jeremy Renner accident January 2, 2023

11. Why everyone’s phone will alarm at 2:20 pm ET on Wednesday October 2, 2023

12. Damar Hamlin update live story January 4, 2023

13. Trump indictment on business fraud charges in Manhattan March 30, 2023

14. Matthew Perry death October 28, 2023

Matthew Perry arrives at the premiere of "The Invention of Lying" in Los Angeles on Monday, Sept. 21, 2009.

Matthew Perry arrives at the premiere of “The Invention of Lying” in Los Angeles on Monday, Sept. 21, 2009.Matt Sayles/AP

15. An El Niño winter is coming. Here’s what that could mean for the US September 25, 2023

16. Bills player Damar Hamlin still sedated a day after collapsing from a cardiac arrest on the field, uncle tells CNN January 2, 2023

17. Wagner head says group standing down live story June 24, 2023

18. Trump says he expects to be arrested Tuesday as New York law enforcement prepares for possible indictment March 18, 2023

19. At least 16 people dead, sources say, as a ‘person of interest’ is being sought in two shootings in Lewiston, Maine October 25, 2023

20. Hamas terror attacks live story October 7, 2023

21. 6-year-old shoots teacher January 7, 2023

22. Maine shootings investigations live story October 27, 2023

23. Israel-Hamas war live story October 9, 2023

24. Lisa-Marie Presley death January 12, 2023

25. McCarthy behind move to kick Pelosi out of her office, sources say – so he can move into it October 3, 2023

26. Israel-Hamas war live story October 8, 2023

27. Maui wildfires live story August 9, 2023

28. Titanic-bound submersible suffered ‘catastrophic implosion’ June 22, 2023

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Video: ‘100 percent preventable’: Deep sea expert on Titan submersible design

03:38 – Source: CNN

29. Chinese spy balloon live story February 4, 2023

30. 9-year-old daughter missing on camping trip October 2, 2023

31. Trump New York arraignment live story April 4, 2023

32. Tucker Carlson out at Fox News April 24, 2023

33. Titanic submersible live story June 20, 2023

34. Dalai Lama apologizes after video asking child to ‘suck’ his tongue sparks outcry April 11, 2023

35. Officials release violent video of Tyre Nichols arrest live story January 27, 2023

36. Chinese zoo sun bears viral controversy August 1, 2023

37. GOP deadlocked over House speaker vote live story January 4, 2023

38. Los Angeles mass shooting live story January 22, 2023

39. Israel-Hamas war live story October 10, 2023

40. Italy’s other leaning tower on high alert for collapse December 4, 2023

41. Exclusive: Georgia prosecutors have messages showing Trump’s team is behind voting system breach August 13, 2023

42. Jeremy Renner shares first photo since snow plowing accident January 3, 2023

43. Nashville private school shooting suspect had maps of building and scouted possible second attack location, police say March 27, 2023

44. Trump indictment live story March 30, 2023

45. ‘Total miscalculation’: China goes into crisis management mode on balloon fallout February 6, 2023

A U.S. Air Force U-2 pilot looks down at the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon as it hovers over the central continental United States on February 3, 2023 before later being shot down by the Air Force off the coast of South Carolina, in this photo released by the U.S. Air Force through the Defense Department on February 22, 2023. U.S. Air Force/Department of Defense/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

A U.S. Air Force U-2 pilot looks down at the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon as it hovers over the central continental United States on February 3, 2023 before later being shot down by the Air Force off the coast of South Carolina.U.S. Air Force/Department of Defense/Handout/Reuters

46. How much should you wash these items February 2, 2023

47. Exclusive: John Kelly goes on the record to confirm several disturbing stories about Trump October 2, 2023

48. GOP deadlocked over House speakership vote live story January 5, 2023

49. Tropical story Idalia August 30, 2023

50. Ireland will pay you $90,000 to move to a beautiful island home June 17, 2023

51. These Florida brothers ran one of the largest opioid ‘pill mills’ in US history. The FBI says it was linked to thousands of deaths February 2, 2023

52. Missing Titanic submersible live story June 23, 2023

53. Video shows Tyre Nichols calling for his mother, beaten by officers now charged in his death January 27, 2023

54. Japan zoo gibbon pregnancy mystery February 9, 2023

55. Israel-Hamas war live story October 12, 2023

56. Alabama mass shooting April 16, 2023

57. McCarthy ousted as Speaker of the House live story October 3, 2023

58. Pentagon tracking suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US February 2, 2023

59. Matthew Perry cause of death investigation October 29, 2023

60. Nikki Haley calls for changing retirement age for Americans who are now in their 20s March 9, 2023

61. Turkey earthquake live story February 6, 2023

62. Two US citizens kidnapped and found dead in Mexico March 7, 2023

63. Pennsylvania inmate search September 13, 2023

64. Damar Hamlin update live story January 5, 2023

65. FDA vaccine advisers ‘disappointed’ and ‘angry’ that early data about new Covid-19 booster shot wasn’t presented for review last year January 11, 2023

66. ‘Vampire straw’ confiscated from traveler at Boston airport April 30, 2023

67. Trump’s surrender in the Georgia 2020 election subversion case live story August 24, 2023

68. Tropical Storm Hilary batters California August 20, 2023

69. Israel-Hamas war live story October 11, 2023

70. US jet shoots down ‘unidentified object’ over northern Canada February 11, 2023

71. Tropical Storm Hilary live story August 20, 2023

72. Israel-Hamas war live story October 13, 2023

73. Earth’s inner core may have stopped turning January 25, 2023

74. Bowling Green college basketball player struck in handshake line following win March 24, 2023

75. Hurricane Idalia live story August 30, 2023

76. Thai bungee jumping accident video March 23, 2023

77. Joran van der Sloot Natalee Holloway plea October 18, 2023

78. Hurricane Hilary forecast August 18, 2023

79. Hurricane Idalia forecast August 29, 2023

A flooded street is seen near the Steinhatchee marina in Steinhatchee, Florida on August 30, 2023, after Hurricane Idalia made landfall. Idalia barreled into the northwest Florida coast as a powerful Category 3 hurricane on Wednesday morning, the US National Hurricane Center said. "Extremely dangerous Category 3 Hurricane #Idalia makes landfall in the Florida Big Bend," it posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding that Idalia was causing "catastrophic storm surge and damaging winds." (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

A flooded street is seen near the Steinhatchee marina in Steinhatchee, Florida on August 30, 2023, after Hurricane Idalia made landfall. Idalia barreled into the northwest Florida coast as a powerful Category 3 hurricane.Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

80. Idaho suspect in student murders thoroughly cleaned vehicle January 6, 2023

81. Government shutdown deadline live story September 30, 2023

82. New Congress and House Speaker vote live story January 3, 2023

83. Takeaways from the first Republican primary debate August 23, 2023

84. ‘Presumed human remains’ found in wreckage of doomed Titan submersible June 28, 2023

85. A US federal agency is considering a ban on gas stoves January 9, 2023

86. 619-pound blue marlin disqualified in fishing competition June 19, 2023

87. Exclusive: Mar-a-Lago pool flood raises suspicions among prosecutors in Trump classified documents case June 5, 2023

88. Influencer dies after live-streaming himself drinking bottles of Chinese spirit Baijiu May 27, 2023

89. Bison calf euthanized after tourist encounter in Yellowstone May 31, 2023

90. Fox News’ sudden firing of Tucker Carlson may have come down to one simple calculation April 25, 2023

91. Covenant School shooter was under care for emotional disorder and hid guns at home, police say March 28, 2023

92. What we know about the unidentified object shot down over Alaska February 11, 2023

93. Louisville, Kentucky bank shooting live story April 10, 2023

94. Bear walks out of ocean onto crowded Florida beach June 11, 2023

95. Donald Trump has been indicted following an investigation into a hush money payment scheme. Here’s what we know March 30, 2023

96. Tropical storm Idalia forecast August 28, 2023

97. Idalia live story August 29, 2023

98. ‘White’ hydrogen discovery October 29, 2023

99. Alabama woman who went missing after reporting a toddler walking on the interstate has returned home, police say July 16, 2023

100. EXCLUSIVE: Trump captured on tape talking about classified document he kept after leaving the White House May 31, 2023

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