These days, with social media, it is easy for a news story to go viral. People are constantly liking, sharing, and hashtagging, and some things spread like wildfire in no time. The news has become a lot more than the major news channels, and city newspapers reporting on local events. Now, something that happened on another continent can become huge news in your town, and there really isn’t any excuse for not staying up to date on what is happening in the world.
From huge entertainment stories, and trending pop culture pieces, to serious reporting on issues that reveal how much our world is changing on a daily basis, every year brings news that takes over every TV channel, radio station, and the front page of every newspaper and website. Here is a roundup of the 12 biggest news stories of 2014.
The Disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
On March 8th, international passenger flight Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished from the sky somewhere between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. The most expensive search in aviation history ensued, but no evidence of the plane has been found. The theory remains that the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean, and teams are currently in the process of searching the sea floor in hopes of finding debris. The possibilities of foul play, or terrorism causing the plane to crash have been ruled out, but until evidence of the plane’s location is found, what really happened to the people on board remains a mystery.
Bill Cosby Rape Allegations
Ever since the ill-advised PR attempt that was #CosbyMeme, more and more women have been coming forward to accuse Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them. Their stories span the last 30 years, and some of the women finally getting the opportunity to describe their experiences include former supermodels Janice Dickinson, and Beverly Johnson. Despite the overwhelming number of accusers, Cosby has refused to comment, preferring to let his representatives insist on his innocence for him. Charges have not been filed since a civil suit in 2006 that was settled out of court, but Cosby’s reputation has definitely taken a hit.
Malala Yousafzai Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
This year, 17-year-old, Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She has been fighting for human rights, and women’s education in particular, since the age of 11 when she started writing an anonymous blog for BBC about life under Taliban rule. She began gaining more notoriety when a New York Times documentary was made about her and her work in 2009. In 2012, after the Taliban had made multiple death threats against her and her family, an attempt was made on her life. Miraculously, she survived, and in 2013 was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. She was a co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.
Michael Brown Shooting
The shooting death of 18-year-old African American, Michael Brown, by white police officer, Darren Brown in August of this year has made international headlines for the outrage it has caused. The incident sparked both peaceful and violent protests, and hundreds of news pieces on the details of the shooting, and whether Wilson was justified in his actions. In November, the grand jury announced its decision not to indict Wilson for murder, and riots broke out in Ferguson, Missouri in protest. Some of the issues Brown’s death brought up include the militarization of the police, racial profiling, and the “use of force” by law enforcement.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
When it comes to viral marketing campaigns, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that swept over social media this summer was a runaway success. It was impossible to log on to social media and not see a video of someone dumping a bucket of ice water over their head in the name of ALS awareness and research, and challenging their friends to do the same. The ALS Association announced that they received more than $100 million in donations within a month. The challenge was mentioned more than 2.2 million times on Twitter, and more than 1.2 million were shared on Facebook between June 1 and August 13.
The jihadist rebel group in the Middle East known as ISIS (or ISIL) has made headlines all over the world this year for its violent social media propaganda (including videos of graphic beheadings), extreme and numerous crimes against humanity, and attempts at taking over as an “Islam State”. World leaders and news outlets have called the group a terrorist organization, and even al-Qaeda has denounced all affiliation with them. Their idea of an “Islam State” has been highly criticized and their actions have been called “un-Islamic” and “cult-like”, but they continue to exert their power over civilians, media, and other military groups. Canada and the US have both pledged their support in helping the Middle East fight against pockets of ISIS rule.
On a lighter note, one of the biggest entertainment news stories of the year has to be the mania surrounding the wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. The pair got married in Italy on May 24th in front of most of their closest friends and family. Noted absences included Jay-Z and Beyonce, and Kim’s brother, Rob. Keeping Up With The Kardashians and social media (mostly Instagram), not to mention the highly scrutinized Vogue spread, were building up to the moment for months, and the results were beautiful. Now the question everyone is asking is, how long will it last?
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Shot Down
In another disaster for Malaysia Airlines, a passenger flight on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over Ukraine on July 16th. All 295 people on board were killed. The Ukrainian government has laid the blame on a Russian separatist group that was positioned in that area, and there are reports that the group had a Buk missile launcher in their possession at the time. But the Russians say the Ukrainian government did it. The investigation is ongoing, and a full report is not expected until August 2015.
Sony Email Leak
The most recent scandal in entertainment news is the Sony email leak. On December 9th, hackers leaked the inboxes of two Sony executives, Amy Pascal, and Steve Mosko. A group called the “Guardians of Peace” have taken responsibility for the backs, which have made public thousands of private email exchanges about what the execs really think about certain celebrities, and movies they are producing. For example, Angelina Jolie is called a “minimally talented spoiled brat” and copies of Annie and Fury were leaked before they were officially released. One conspiracy theory is that the hacks are a retaliation for the film The Interview and its plot to assassinate North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un.
Celeb Nude Photo Leak
Yet to be identified hackers were also behind the massive celeb nude photo leak of 2014. Hundreds of celebs had their privacy violated when the iCloud was hacked, and nude photos were released of everyone from Jennifer Lawrence, to Kate Upton. Jennifer Lawrence may have had it the worst with multiple explicit photos released to the public, and in an interview with Vanity Fair, she called the leak nothing short of a sex crime. Many others agreed, but some said if people don’t want their nude photos out there for everyone to see, then maybe they shouldn’t be taking them in the first place. Jennifer Lawrence has since been named the most Googled person of the year.
Deaths of Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Celebrities pass away every year, but the deaths of Philip Seymour Hoffman in February, and Robin Williams in October hit fans pretty hard. Hoffman was found in his apartment, dead of a drug overdose, and Williams committed suicide after battling depression. Both actors were well respected, and fans took to social media to express their condolences to family and friends, and try to remember the actors for what they gave to the world.
The GamerGate controversy began in August, and surrounded misogyny and harassment in video game culture, as well as ethics in gaming journalism. The majority of commenters say the movement is less about journalism and more rooted in a culture war against women and the diversification of gaming culture. The controversy started when indie game developer, Zoe Quinn’s ex-boyfriend accused her of having a sexual relationship with a journalist for a gaming website, thus leading to a more favourable review for her game. She, and other women who spoke out, endured harassment, and violent threats via social media, and in real life. The events of Gamergate are widely attributed to perceived changes or threats to the “gamer” identity as a result of the ongoing diversification and maturation of the gaming industry.