The Different Top News of 2018 Lists

The Different Top News of 2018 Lists December 27, 2018

This is the time of year for retrospectives, for journalists to look back on the top stories of the year.  What strikes me is how different the lists are.  And what they reveal about those who make them.

Consider the Associated Press list.  The AP is the leading American news agency, providing stories syndicated to virtually all of the country’s newspapers, television networks, radio stations, and online news sources.  So the AP list, which is voted on by the nation’s editors and news directors, is probably most representative of the mainline press.  (Click the link for details about each story.)

Associated Press Top Stories of 2018:

1. The Parkland school shooting

2. The Trump-Russia probe

3. The #MeToo movement

4. Mass shootings

5. U.S. midterm elections

6. Immigration

 7. Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination

8. California wildfires

9. Climate change

10. Murder of journalist Jamaal Khashoggi
Two separate stories in the top 10 about shootings?  Parkland seems to be #1, in part, because it provoked the big march against guns.  And is climate change a specific news event, or a general trend?  Or a cause to acknowledge?  Do you see any agendas here?
Now let’s look at a list from Fox News, the leading conservative news source.  This focuses on “political moments,” but I think it is comparable, even though it lists only 7 top stories instead of 10.  Unlike the AP list, these do not appear to be in any particular order.

7 political moments that defined 2018 [Fox News]:

  1. Kavanaugh’s 2nd Supreme Court hearing

2.  Showdown in Singapore  [President Trump’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un]

3.  Democrats’ House takeover

4.  Farewell 41  [The death of former president George Bush.]

5.  The other Kim summit  [Kardashian!]

6.  Ocasio-Cortez bursts onto the scene

7.  Paul Manafort behind bars

The only stories the AP and the Fox lists have in common are the Kavanaugh hearing and the midterm election.  The AP cites the Mueller investigation of President Trump, but Fox focuses on a specific individual whom the investigation sent to prison.  The Fox list shows an international awareness, plus the emergence of a political star on the left.  But in the midst of these serious stories is something completely trivial.  Who cares that President Trump had a meeting with Kim Kardashian and her husband Kanye West?  How is that a top story?

Here is the top list from Insider News, an online magazine associated with Business Insider.  This “new media” source is much more international, including tech news.

10 news stories that gripped the world in 2018 [Insider News]:

1.Twelve boys and their soccer coach got stranded in a cave in Thailand, and the world rallied to their rescue.

Facebook’s 2018 Year in Review:

  • International Women’s Day: For the second year in a row, International Women’s Day on March 8 was the #1 most talked about moment of the year. But in 2018, IWD conversation was about more than the day itself. Women and men around the world discussed a wide range of topics, issues and causes related to women.
  • March for Our Lives: Survivors of the violence in Parkland, Florida announced the March for Our Lives movement on February 18, which drove conversation and action around the world. Over the next month, more than 1 million people showed interest in attending a Facebook Event for March for Our Lives, and more than $2.5 million was raised through Facebook Fundraisers.
  • Civic Engagement: The Brazilian Presidential Election on October 7 and the US Midterm Elections on November 6 were top moments for conversation about voting and elections.

We also saw communities join together in celebration of global moments in culture:

  • World Cup: More than 383 million soccer fans from around the world took to Facebook to cheer on their favorite teams through 2.3 billion posts, comments, reactions and shares. France’s World Cup victory on July 15 and England’s Semi-Final match against Croatia on July 11 were two of the top most-discussed moments of the year.
  • Super Bowl 52: The Philadelphia Eagles secured their first Super Bowl win against the New England Patriots on February 4. More than 62 million people turned to Facebook following Tom Brady’s incomplete Hail Mary pass at the end of the game, and Justin Timberlake’s halftime performance paying tribute to Prince.
  • The Royal Wedding: The much-anticipated nuptials between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19 connected 42 million people on Facebook who about posted about the ceremony, the newlyweds, and the pomp and circumstance.

Finally, people came to Facebook to honor prominent figures who have had a significant impact around the world:

  • Nelson Mandela 100: July 18 marked 100 years since Nelson Mandela was born, and millions of people came to Facebook to celebrate Mandela’s life of dedication to human rights and social justice.
  • Keeping Legacies Alive: The world lost many influential and inspirational people in 2018. From musical icons Aretha Franklin, Avicii, and Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries, to scientific visionaries like Stephen Hawking, influential storytellers like Anthony Bourdain and Hollywood stars like Burt Reynolds. People around the world shared millions of posts on Facebook to memorialize the global impact and work of these individuals.

What else do you see in these lists?  What do they tell us about those who made them?  What would you say were the top stories of 2018?


Illustration by geralt via Pixabay, CC0, Creative Commons

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