The biggest stories of 2012?
Thats the subject of a Page 1 article today and a topic the media is discussing everywhere at years end as we look back on the news events that captured our interest and imagination.
At The Miami Herald, our top 10 is really two lists of five what our staff selected as the top five local stories, and the picks for the top five on the national and international scene.
For levitys sake and in a year like this, we all need a laugh we offer Dave Barrys year in review in Tropical Life. Its a month-by-month look at how 2012 unfolded, and a different view, for sure.
Our local stories included the death of Trayvon Martin, the attack on the MacArthur Causeway, the opening of the Marlins Stadium and the dismantling of the baseball team, the Miami Heats NBA triumph and the saga of Miamian Christian Aguilar, a University of Florida freshman allegedly murdered by his roommate.
Our national and international list featured the 2012 presidential election; the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo.; Hurricane Sandy; the milieu in the Middle East (Syria, Egypt and the Israel-Palestine conflict) and the scandal around resigned CIA chief David Petraeus.
Reporters Audra D.S Burch and Connie Ogle, who worked on the list, said one measure involved a storys staying power. We looked at how long a story stayed in our mindset, on the front page, in the conversation, Burch told me. The causeway attack, she said, was shocking, of course. But it sticks with you because we still dont know why it happened. The death of college student Christian Aguilar made the list, she said, because of how it connected with parents and families. Every parent could relate to a child going away and learning he will never come back again.
No list is perfect, and weve had arguments aplenty at The Herald on what did or didnt make either list. Such as:
• We listed the fall of military hero and CIA chief David Petraeus in our top five national/international stories, but not the saga of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. The rationale? Chavezs health and Venezuelas future has high interest in South Florida and Latin America, but further from the radar elsewhere in the state and the country.
• Our list lacks a major local business story. The real estate rebound? No. The struggles of Citizens Insurance and the rise of property insurance in general? No. American Airlines fight to emerge from bankruptcy? The Costa Concordia disaster and its effect on corporate parent Carnival? No and no.
• We dont list Floridas various voting snafus in the local top five. Our state government and politics editor, Sergio Bustos, asserted that the defeat of U.S. Rep. David Rivera, amid allegations he secretly funded the campaign of a political unknown to challenge his chief re-election rival, ought to be on the list. Political writer Marc Caputo recommended another story as Floridas top political news event the resurrection of former Gov. Charlie Crist.
• Our newsroom colleagues with the WLRN-Miami Herald News on 91.3 FM have done a series of reports on top local stories this year. One, by reporter Rick Stone, focused on the weirdest stories in Florida this year. In addition to the causeway attack, it features the disembodied blue eye found on the beach (turned out to be from a swordfish) and a woman arrested while riding a manatee.
The Associated Press released its annual top 10 story rankings this week, with several not on our top five: gay marriage, the fiscal cliff and Penn State.
And there are plenty of other rankings. Google tracks the most searched events of 2012. In the United States, that list goes like this: Hurricane Sandy, the presidential election, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, UEFA Europe 2012 (soccer), the KONY movement, the Stop Online Piracy Act Protest, the Aurora shooting, the Trayvon Martin shooting and Hurricane Isaac.
The Yahoo News list included the Miami causeway attack and Trayvon Martin, and added in the death of Whitney Houston, gas prices, the Jerry Sandusky trial and the trial of Joran van der Sloot, the Dutch citizen suspected in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba and sentenced to 28 years in prison for the 2010 robbery and murder of Stephany Tatiana Flores in Peru.
In the end, what determines the most important stories depends on who you are and where you live. Through The Miami Herald and WLRN Herald News Public Insight Network, we asked for top story suggestions. Voting problems ranked high among PIN members who responded. We heard about climate change and rising sea levels, and the collapse of the parking and classroom structure at the west campus of Miami Dade College.
As we approach the new year, heres one more chance to weigh in. At MiamiHerald.com, you can vote on your top story choices in an unscientific online poll. Or leave a comment on this article.
From all of us at The Miami Herald, have a happy and safe New Year.