Oil spill not the top story in '10

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Last week the Associated Press released their Top 10 stories list for 2010. This annual tradition -- as you would expect -- is a slam dunk in some years and not-so-clear cut in others.

This year those media types across the nation selected the Gulf oil spill by a narrow margin as the most important news story for 2010. To my way of thinking, they got it all wrong.

I don't diminish the short-term nor long-term effect potential of the oil spill. But there is no way this story was the most important news event of the past year. Not by a country mile.

The massive health care overhaul finished second in the balloting and, in my opinion, should have been a runaway winner this year. The legislation either threatens or guarantees our future health care needs, depending on your perspective.

In terms of importance or impact, the outcome of the November elections easily outdistances the oil spill. And the end result of those elections has yet to be fully felt.

The ongoing conflicts in the trouble spots of the world -- Afghanistan and Korea -- are vastly more important than the oil spill.

And then, hovering over all of these news milestones is the economy -- the proverbial 800-pound gorilla that hits every home, every day.

It may not be appropriate to judge news value or importance by those issues that trouble us the most but if that were the case, then the economy clearly trumps all other issues of 2010.

Gauging the most important news is a subjective practice. If you have a loved one serving in the military, the ongoing war is vastly more important than an oil spill, an election or the tea party movement.

If you have lost your job, rest assured, it's not the long-term environmental issues that keep you awake at night.

In a way, the selection of the Gulf oil spill as the top story of 2010 illustrates the disconnect between the national news media and reality. Don't listen to the "experts" within the media culture, just ask your neighbor what the most important news item was for the past year.

Were I a betting man -- and I am -- I'd say the oil spill will go down as a minor footnote in history. The same cannot be said for the other issues down the news list.

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