As every year ends, news organizations cast an eye over the past 12 months and start to make lists. There are biggest stories, newsmakers of the year, best sports teams, most outrageous quotes, you get the picture. Oh yes, there is also a look at the best photos and most iconic photos of the year.
As it turns out, 2011, as a year in news, was remarkable. Most of us in the business cannot recall a year where so many huge news events toppled onto one another as though they were up against some sort of world-ending deadline. If you are a conspiracy theorist, you will believe that’s exactly why everything happened when it did, but that’s another story.
So where to start? There were terrible natural disasters, Japan’s earthquake and tsunami leading the headlines. In Canada, a wildfire wiped out nearly half the community of Slave Lake, Alta.
On the political front, Canadians bored with campaigns struggled to survive another federal election, at least until Jack Layton single-handedly pulled the NDP from also-ran status to Official Opposition in a house with a Conservative majority. As he triumphed, two other leaders tumbled, their Liberal and Bloc Quebecois parties left in shambles. Then, not long after that political victory came a national heartbreak, when Layton died of cancer. The outpouring of grief across the country was unprecedented.
Meanwhile, around the world shouts of dissent were being heard in the Middle East and North Africa. Uprisings flourished in country after country in what became known as the Arab Spring. Dictators were toppled, one after the other. Included in that rebellion was Libya, where leader Moammar Gadhafi was eventually driven from power and killed.
Then there was the financial crisis. European countries, where finances had been mismanaged for decades, were finally starting to crumble under debt. Long-time leaders, such as Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, were forced to resign as the European Union worked to keep itself and the rest of the world’s major economies, from falling into a depression.
The year was also shocking for the number of newsmakers who died. The world’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, was killed by U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan. The young, troubled soul diva Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London home. Apple co-founder and visionary Steve Jobs died of cancer at age 56. There are many more.
In a year of so many tragic events there were some good news stories. The wedding of Britain’s Prince William to Kate Middleton captured the attention of billions of people around the world. Then their first official visit as a married couple was to Canada, where they were treated like stars.
On Thursday, Canadian Press will announced its newsmaker of the year. This is the person deemed by news editors across the country to have been the biggest name in the news for the year. Next week CP will announce the biggest news story. On Wednesday it released the most iconic photographs for the year.
I’m pretty sure I can guess who the newsmaker will be. Time magazine named the protester as the newsmaker of the year. Canadians will, I think, pick someone else.
We’d love to hear your opinions. Who was the newsmaker of the year. And what was the biggest news story in your estimation? Why?