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Top Five News Stories of 2014

Written by Lesli Boldt on Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 01:27PM
Filed in: Public Relations Communications Politics International British Columbia Social Media
Comments: 2

While it’s been a big year for news once again in 2014, it’s still hard to believe that another year has already passed. It feels like just yesterday I was in my jammies writing up last year’s list, and here I am again (probably in the same jammies). Here’s my picks for 2014.

Michael Brown, Eric Garner and #blacklivesmatter

Michael Brown was an 18-year old young black man who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014 under circumstances that are disputed to this day. Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York in July 2014 after a police officer used what appeared to be a banned manoeuvre – a chokehold – on him.

The two deaths – and resulting grand jury decisions to clear the police officers involved of any wrongdoing – set off a wave of protests against racism and police brutality across the USA. Perhaps more importantly, it has set off an honest conversation about the value of black lives in American culture, and how – until very recently – many Americans have turned a blind eye to the racism that continues to be a very real part of the American experience.

Ebola crisis in West Africa

There has rarely been a day when the ebola virus – and the more than 7,000 people it has killed in West Africa in 2014 – has been far from the top of headlines around the world. As I write this, a Canadian woman is currently in an isolation unit in a Kelowna hospital after recently returning from Sierra Leone. News reports say she has tested negative for the virus.

New treatments for ebola – some of them developed by Canadians – combined with the herculean efforts of local, regional and international medical teams, are creating hope that the virus may be brought under control in 2015.

Until then, we mourn the loss of thousands of lives.

ISIS

This organization has been at the top of the headlines, news agenda, and social media trending in 2014. Media attention has focused on the startling coverage of brutal beheadings of foreign hostages, captured on video and broadcast online and shared around the world, the loss of lives in war, and the tens of thousands of refugees fleeing war in northern Iraq and Syria.

The sophistication of this organization’s propaganda – no matter how horrifying it may be – provides a dark lesson about the power of skilled communication to motivate and influence journalism, international politics and even military policy. It is likely that this organization – and the ongoing story of war and death in Syria, Iraq and other countries in the Middle East – will continue to dominate the headlines in 2015.

BC Teachers’ Strike

There can be no question that the BC Teachers’ Strike was one of the top stories for 2014. As someone interested and engaged in education politics (I’m the child and sister of public school teachers, and my father is now a school trustee in Comox Valley), the #bced conversation on Twitter and Facebook certainly commanded my attention.

The strike also commanded the news cycle for weeks, as both the Government of BC and the BCTF literally negotiated through the media (rather than through eachother). Thankfully, a deal was reached. However, we’ll see the pending court decision regarding the BC government’s unconstitutional breach of the previous teachers’ contract hit the headlines in 2015.

Jian Ghomeshi

Oh, Jian. He was my favourite CBC Radio personality, and that of millions of Canadians, I suspect. We listened to him, adored him, and were proud to call him ours. My dad referred to him on the day he was fired as the “Gzowski of his generation”.

None of us could believe our beloved Jian Ghomeshi could have done anything to merit being fired from the CBC – and some of us even wondered aloud if it was a “Harper move” to silence a critic at the public broadcaster. That is, until Ghomeshi himself released his version of events – including the first details of his sexual tastes – that eventually led to new details of alleged sexual harassment of women at the CBC, and the alleged violent assaults on women he is currently charged with.

Regardless of Mr. Ghomeshi’s preferences in the bedroom, it is clear that his decision fire the first shot in the PR war with the CBC on this issue was a poor one. He tried to get out ahead of the message to define the narrative, but ended up losing complete control of it, as his accusers lashed back with an overwhelming wave of information and evidence to contradict his claims.

The good news about the Ghomeshi firestorm is that it also set off a valuable and honest national conversation about sexual harassment, assault, and how and when a person gives consent. And for that reason alone, I’m glad this story hit the top of the headlines for many of us in 2014.

And...that's all she wrote!

A happy new year to you all!

Thanks for reading my blog in 2014… and we’ll catch up with you in 2015!

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  1. good list!

    Written on Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 11:04hrs by Alison

  2. I agree with ISIS, but it should be in the context of western interference in Syria and Ukraine. Our PM has sent troops and planes to deal with ISIS, and I wonder when he'll do the same in Ukraine. The audacity of it all boggles the mind.

    Agree about Jian

    Teacher strike? The fall out of that is not over as I am beginning to appreciate as a rookie trustee.

    And the ebola story, attached to the others makes one want to take another look at the book of Revelations, the book in the New Testament that seems to inform our PM's brand of Christianity.

    Sigh. And happy new year. New challenges for the curious.

    Written on Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 13:42hrs by Cliff Boldt