Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Best Wishes for a Newer Year

A new year is news. Any paper, magazine, radio or television show worth its salt confirmed that this past week with its endless spotlight on 'new as news.' So are resolutions, which are code for hoping the coming year is not like the last. And then there are the lists. The top stories that changed and moved and shocked the world.

It's an odd but interesting tradition in journalism to pause (for a nano-second) at the year's major stories, in hopes, I guess, of gaining some fresh perspective we might have missed the first time around. Sort of like glancing at an abstract painting in a gallery where we notice the lines and colors, shapes and patterns, but we don't necessarily 'get' it. So we go back to it, lean in close to the canvas, put our hands on our hips and say, "Hmm, that's interesting."

There's no doubt the stories of this past year do require some more reflection: an African American leader birthed into office while hate crimes and racial threats escalated across the country. A moonwalking singing icon died but few concerns about prescription-drug addiction seemed to emerge. Town Hall shouting matches over how to care for sick people drowned out the treatable but still-killer illnesses of millions of families in developing countries, not to mention the children in this country who've never seen a doctor, all while celebrity affairs, political sex scandals and desperate grasps at fame distracted us from the bullets and famines, poverty and machetes of communities beyond our borders.

Of course, there were a few noble reporters who narrowed in on these otherwise absent stories. But maybe the better year-end list by the mainstream media should not be what stories were reported in 2009 but which weren't. And maybe the resolution for 2010 could be to pay more attention—all of us, reporter and reader alike—to those that really need to be told. That would be a resolution worth holding to.

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