The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson –
Facebook users are faced with a new link on their pages promoting them to “See Your 2013 Year in Review: Look back at your 20 biggest moments from the past year.”
The problem is, as usual with new technology, programming code is choosing those big moments for people. And those so-called big moments may not be so big, after all.
I’ve said all along that a blog archive organized by date and key word category is a far better way to keep up with what happens over time than any mass social networking software invented to date. The Facebook Year in Review proves my point. The entries don’t even appear to be organized by what got the most likes or comments. The choices appear to be totally random without any organizing principle behind them.
Since the end of the year is approaching and I had planned on doing a year in review column anyway, and the news has slowed down already in the holiday season, I took the time this morning to look back on the past year’s news in the monthly archives and choose what I think are the biggest moments of the past year.
Of course the year started out with the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, and in my coverage — unlike any other coverage in the country — I highlighted what the president said about the environment and labor. These are themes that run throughout the news during the past year anyway, as you will soon see.
In February, one of the biggest and most important protests in the history of Washington protests took place, and I was there to cover it.
By April, I was back in Washington again, this time providing the best coverage in the country at a very important Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference in the nation’s capital.
Also in April, we finalized a big investigative news feature with photos and video highlighting an ill-conceived plan by the U.S. Forest Service to open up the Talladega National Forest for gas drilling with the possibility of fracking.
I confronted Forest Supervisor Steve Lohr at a so-called “public meeting” (not a formal public hearing) in Montgomery and found out the real story of what was going on.
In May, my reporting led the Sierra Club to draft a formal letter opposing gas drilling and fracking in the national forests.
By June, the Sierra Club pressure on the White House to begin doing something about climate change due to global warming from the burning of fossil fuels had a quantitative effect.
Also in June, however, the domestic spying story finally grew legs due to the whistleblowing of Ed Snowden who approached Glenn Greenwald and got the story out.
But at the same time, the Sierra Club and labor union pressure on the Senate to break the gridlock and get things moving in Washington had the desired effect.
By July, the Sierra Club pressure on the Forest Service had the desired effect.
Then another important meeting in Mobile helped start a real fight against tax subsidized expansion of international petrochemical storage and transportation hubs in Alabama’s port city.
By the Dog Days of August, one of the great 20th Century institutions in the U.S. announced it was selling out to the owner of Amazon.com, bringing up serous questions about the future of serious journalism in America.
By September, Harvard University released a report on the intersection of American journalism and new technology that also raised profound questions on the past 30 years of our history as well as our direction in the future.
Meanwhile, I proposed a permanent ban on all gas fracking in U.S. national forests.
Then I recounted that it was a ground breaking year for environmental journalism and activism in the U.S. and my home state.
In October, the new coalition of citizen activists that formed in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf in 2010, reenergized by the movement of tar sands oil by rail to Mobile, chartered a bus to protest in Montgomery.
At the same time, tea party Republicans in Congress were monkeying around with our way of life again, shutting down the government to try to make a point. But the people showed they are not all ignorant, uneducated and easily manipulated by false rhetoric on talk radio and Fox News.
By November, all the right-wing hand-wringing over illegal immigration in Alabama proved to be for naught.
And several year’s worth of public pressure on the U.S. Senate finally paid off.
All in all, the year 2013 was a banner year for the Web Press.
Perhaps all the movement of people getting their information online instead of from talk radio, Fox News or even traditional newspapers led to positive movement in public opinion.
Unfortunately, as in all things except for football, my poor home state of Alabama is still way behind the trend line.
© 2013, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.