My former employer, the Los Angeles Times, looked to Web stats to launch their Best of 2007 roundup. The news collection includes the top Times staff photos as selected by LAT photo editors, and the most-viewed stories and reader-submitted photos as ranked by page views.

Separately, the Travel section pulled together their own eye-popping year in review page featuring the most viewed travel stories of 2007.

Say what you will about the popularity contest that is “most viewed,” this a great way of highlighting content from a news organization’s vast output, and something all media should be able to take advantage of and execute.

It also highlights the need for descriptive headlines on the Web. Without photos and summary paragraphs some of the popular news stories seem lost in space:

No. 9 overall: “Unfazed by his judgment of Paris”

No. 1 California/Local: “Tale of last 90 minutes of woman’s life”

No. 3 and 5, respectively, in World: “No crime too small in Tokyo” and “‘We have decided to take your life'”

No. 1 in Entertainment: “Lost in the hype over hits”

Even the most-viewed story on all of, “Old Mike, New Christine,” is probably unfathomable to people who haven’t paid attention to the sex-change operation and new lease on life taken by sportswriter Mike Penner, now Christine Daniels.

Despite the mystery hed, people did read the article. (Too bad we don’t know how many.) Kudos to my former colleagues at the Times.

Meanwhile, this week’s New York magazine cover story is “Reasons to Love New York Right Now.” Reason No. 19 was “Because Rupert Murdoch Thinks Newspapers Are a Growth Business.”

Murdoch isn’t the only one. In March, Sam Zell said he thought he saw profit potential in newspapers as well and n Thursday took Tribune Co. private in what some in the investment world have long called a risky but Zellian venture.

While things aren’t rosy, it appears for now that the big media news business, and newspapers in particular, aren’t dead yet.

Now the real fight begins. If most of 2007 was the year fretting, 2008 ought to be the year of action. Advertisers are looking at new revenue models, business developers are exploring new partnerships, and newsrooms are looking yet more ways to either integrate operations of traditional platforms with the Web or revamp them altogether.

With ’08 being a campaign year, it will also be interesting to see how broadcasters take advantage of online spaces, and how much the blogosphere and social media will shift power and influence public opinion.