Obama election voted top news story of 2008

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

NEW YORK -- The election that made Barack Obama president was the top news story of 2008, followed closely by the economic meltdown that will test his leadership, according to U.S. editors and news directors voting in The Associated Press' annual poll.

The campaign received 100 first-place votes out of 155 ballots cast for the top 10 stories.

The economic crisis, pushing the U.S. into recession and hurting many business sectors worldwide, was the No. 2 story, receiving 49 first-place votes.

The top story of 2007 was the massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech University by a mentally disturbed student gunman.

Here are 2008's top 10 stories, as voted by AP members:

1. U.S. election: Obama emerged from Election Night as a decisive victor and a symbol for the world of America's democratic promise.

2. Economic meltdown: The bad news kept coming -- collapses of Wall Street giants; huge stock market losses; plummeting home prices and a surge of foreclosures; desperate times for U.S. automakers.

3. Oil prices: The global economic angst produced hyper-volatile energy markets. The price of crude soared as high as $150 a barrel in July before crashing to $33 this month.

4. Iraq: The much-debated surge of U.S. troops helped reduce violence after more than five years of war, but Iraq is still buffeted daily by bombings, ambushes, kidnappings and political uncertainty.

5. Beijing Olympics: China hosted the Olympics for first time, drawing praise for logistical mastery and condemnation for heavy-handed security measures. The games themselves were rated a success.

6. Chinese earthquake: A huge quake in May killed 70,000 people in Sichuan province and left 5 million homeless.

7. Sarah Palin: To her conservative admirers, the Alaskan governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate was a refreshing change from most politicians; to her critics, she was in over her head.

8. Mumbai terrorism: Ten attackers terrorized India's financial capital in November, killing 164 people in coordinated attacks on hotels, markets and a train station.

9. Hillary Clinton: She didn't win, but Clinton came closer than any other woman in U.S. history to becoming a major party's presidential nominee.

10. Russia-Georgia war: The two nations waged a five-day war in August ignited by a Georgian artillery barrage on the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Russia responded with a drive deep into Georgian territory.

Stories that almost made the Top 10 included Cyclone Nargis, which killed more than 84,000 people in Myanmar; Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which wreaked deadly damage in the Caribbean and on the U.S. Gulf Coast; and the seesaw fate of same-sex marriage in California, where a court ruling approving it was later overturned by a ballot measure.

Several write-in votes were cast for two developments that occurred too late to be included on the AP ballot -- the filing of a criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the efforts of struggling U.S. automakers to get a federal bailout. The alleged financial scam involving Bernard Madoff also was revealed too late to make the ballot.

Several of the editors who voted commented on how two transcendent developments dominated the news in 2008.

"As far as I am concerned, there were only two stories this year," wrote Linda Grist Cunningham of the Rockford (Ill.) Register Star. "Global economy collapses (sending every country into financial, political and personal chaos) and Obama elected U.S. president, changing the way the America does business -- financial, political and personal."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: