AP poll finds that Bin Laden killing the biggest story of 2011 and my end of the year rambling commentary

The top story of the year according to a survey of U.S newsroom directors and editors.

The results to the annual poll of U.S news editors and News directors was released in mid-December and the next few posts will likely seem to have happened a few weeks ago, because I have had other issues to cope with and hence the back log.

Anyway since we are on the precipice of 2012, (which as this cartoon I came across illustrates, I think is just a plot by the Mayans to freak us all out ), it seems just as timely as it was weeks ago.

Gauging the opinions of 247 U.S  News Directors and News Editors, the Associated Press asked them what was the biggest story of 2011. By an overwhelming majority, 128 of them said the NAVY SEAL operation that located and killed Al-Queda mastermind Osama Bin Laden. The Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown that hit Japan in fairly quick order of one another, came in a distant second with 60 votes.

Obviously, since those  in charge of U.S News rooms and not media outlets around the world, the selection would seem to be tilted towards stories that have a substantial effect on or involve America. As the AP noted however, this year about half  have an international flavor to them. 

In a way its surprising, since the United States is where international news is not a big draw. But then again in an increasingly smaller globalized world where the ripples from one event cross boundaries and even oceans, it’s not so surprising.

• OSAMA BIN LADEN’S DEATH: He’d been the world’s most-wanted terrorist for nearly a decade, ever since a team of his al-Qaida followers carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In May, the long and often-frustrating manhunt ended with a nighttime assault by a helicopter-borne special operations squad on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Bin Laden was shot dead by one of the raiders, and within hours his body was buried at sea.

• JAPAN’S TRIPLE DISASTER: A 9.0-magnitude earthquake off Japan’s northeast coast in March unleashed a tsunami that devastated scores of communities, leaving nearly 20,000 people dead or missing and wreaking an estimated $218 billion in damage. The tsunami triggered the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl after waves knocked out the cooling system at a nuclear power plant, causing it to spew radiation that turned up in local produce. About 100,000 people evacuated from the area have not returned to their homes.

• ARAB SPRING: It began with demonstrations in Tunisia that rapidly toppled the longtime strongman. Spreading like a wildfire, the Arab Spring protests sparked a revolution in Egypt that ousted Hosni Mubarak, fueled a civil war in Libya that climaxed with Moammar Gadhafi’s death, and fomented a bloody uprising in Syria against the Assad regime. Bahrain and Yemen also experienced major protests and unrest.

• EU FISCAL CRISIS: The European Union was hit with relentless fiscal turmoil. In Greece, austerity measures triggered strikes, protests and riots, while Italy’s economic woes toppled Premier Silvio Berlusconi. France and Germany led urgent efforts to ease the debt crisis; Britain balked at proposed changes.

• US ECONOMY: By some measures, the U.S. economy gained strength as the year progressed. Hiring picked up a bit, consumers were spending more, and the unemployment rate finally dipped below 9 percent. But millions of Americans remained buffeted by foreclosures, joblessness and benefit cutbacks, and investors were on edge monitoring the chain of fiscal crises in Europe.

• PENN STATE SEX ABUSE SCANDAL: One of America’s most storied college football programs was tarnished in a scandal that prompted the firing of Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno. One of his former assistants, Jerry Sandusky, was accused of sexually molesting 10 boys, two senior Penn State officials were charged with perjury, and the longtime president was ousted. Paterno wasn’t charged, but expressed regret he didn’t do more after being told there was a problem.

• GADHAFI TOPPLED IN LIBYA: After nearly 42 years of mercurial and often brutal rule, Moammar Gadhafi was toppled by his own people. Anti-government protests escalated into an eight-month rebellion, backed by NATO bombing, that shattered his regime, and Gadhafi finally was tracked down and killed in the fishing village where he was born.

• FISCAL SHOWDOWNS IN CONGRESS: Partisan divisions in Congress led to several showdowns on fiscal issues. A fight over the debt ceiling prompted Standard & Poor’s to strip the U.S. of its AAA credit rating. Later, the so-called “supercommittee” failed to agree on a deficit-reduction package of at least $1.2 trillion – potentially triggering automatic spending cuts of that amount starting in 2013.

• OCCUPY WALL STREET PROTESTS: It began Sept. 17 with a protest at a New York City park near Wall Street, and within weeks spread to scores of communities across the U.S. and abroad. The movement depicted itself as leaderless and shied away from specific demands, but succeeded in airing its complaint that the richest 1 percent of Americans benefit at the expense of the rest. As winter approached, local police dismantled several of the protest encampments.

• GABRIELLE GIFFORDS SHOT: The popular third-term congresswoman from Arizona suffered a severe brain injury when she and 18 other people were shot by a gunman as she met with constituents outside a Tucson supermarket in January. Six people died, and Giffords’ painstaking recovery is still in progress.

In the end I think these stories represent a 2011 that was just not reflected in events, but felt riding the air of our time.  The year 2011 will be almost certainly reflected upon as a threshold into a new era, a time when we first gazed with toes aimed forward into an uncertain future but our heels still resting though just barely in the past.

It’s the year that falling markets, stubborn unemployment, debts, and a disheveled and inept political class quarreled and brought us much drama and peril, but scant tangible achievements. The year that the tea party swept into power a congress, that union workers and their allies pushed back against what they saw as the confiscation of what they saw as their rights to collectively bargain, that the over educated and underemployed who saw the glitter of their dreams begin to dim and made income inequality an issue asserted themselves with the occupy wall street movement, when regimes that had been fixed in place for nearly half a century in some cases were dislodged by the cries and protests of those who chants filled all ears and whose marching feet ignited a fire of resentments and struggle against the twins of tyranny and anachronistic in the middle east, the year that public opinion turned against Putin in Russia, and austerity was met with demonstrations. The champagne bottle of our collective long-held grievances has been uncorked and what has flowed forth is a renaissance of voices, some in harmony others in conflict with the others, making the dialogue of outr age all the more uproarious.

It’s the year that one of the most divisive and many Americans would say misguided wars,that practically stretched back  into the sunset years of my adolescence came to an end. The year that so many Al-Queda leaders included Osama Bin Laden were slain, relieving America and the world from some of its weighted chains of fear, paranoia, and panic, only to fall into the depths of despair.

Two seemingly diametrically opposing desires seemed to burn in the heads, hearts, and hopes of all mankind this year. It wasn’t just in what people said, or felt, or the events that transpired but were a sum of all those parts. It could be felt riding the air of the time. Everyone and everything wanted to change. Everyone wanted the husk of the old and corrupt to be discarded or cast aside, and whether we wanted it or not so many of us had that happen.  The earth has  shifted beneath all our feet and we have realized that often times change is something that we can’t fully tame as we look into the darkness and ambiguity of an uncertain future.

On the other hand and often times by the same individuals something else was hungered for in our lives and in our world that in many cases we haven’t found because we are in the midst of the great funnel cloud that is change and the forces of transition. That would be stability, the certainty of the past and the expectation that the course of history will keep a steady and even course and that hopefully that history as we have mapped it out in our minds we go as closely planned as possible.

These are two forces and desires that in our lives and in our world, can not exist in great abundance together. They must take effect in succession of one another.  We’ve seen the beginnings of change at its most disruptive stages, hopefully change will reach its more fulfilling stages in 2012, before ushering in the stability and order we all want.

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