By any measure, 2014 was a tumultuous year both locally and globally. War, famine, terrorism, and murder characterized the year as the world seemed to become crazier than ever.
While of course the most extreme of human behavior is what leads the newspapers, magazines, blogs and TV newscasts, it was hard to find the positives in such a crazy year.
But we’re hopeful that 2015 will bring better things as people worldwide try to grapple with how to resolve some of the very issues that came to the surface this year. Here were our top ten news stories as originally reported.
On August 9, around 12 noon, many lives were changed when 18-year-old Michael Brown’s life came to an end. This killing set up the rest of the year from increased activism, to the coalescing and uniting of a worldwide protest movement that started in little Ferguson, Missouri. Protests spread to sports after the policeman who killed Eric Garner with a chokehold is not indicted. But by year’s end, after a man with a history of violence and mental instability kills two NYPD officers in the name of Brown and Garner, the protest movement has to regroup. Sadly, another police killing in Missouri gives protestors new momentum.
This was one of the most reported stories in the media, but it’s a question as to whether the panic around Ebola was largely media created. The U.S. had four victims – two nurses, a doctor and Thomas Eric Duncan, an African who traveled to the U.S. to see his fiancee. Yet despite very little risk to the American people, Ebola panic was at its height just before the midterm election. After, coverage largely faded away.
The Leader of The Free World could be expected to make news given his power. But Obama made news almost every day of 2014, for everything from his summer vacation, which happened in the middle of dual crises at home and abroad and even for his daughter’s response (or lack thereof) during the annual Turkey pardon ceremony.
Obama also took on Ferguson, racism, inequalities that impact Black males, pre-school education, Sony hackers and hecklers, none of which came without controversy. He’s got two years left under a hostile Congress. Will he go out with a bang of a whimper?
L.A. Clippers owner was known for being cheap, occasionally racist and as the longest tenured owner in the NBA. All of that changed this year when comments he made to a “friend,” V. Stiviano became public and he was forced to sell his interest in the Clippers to former Microsoft exec Steve Ballmer.
Though disgraced, Sterling will make about a billion dollars on the deal, as he purchased the Clippers for $12 million and they were sold for $2 billion. Hmmm, maybe he put V. Stiviano up to it?
In February, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his then-girlfriend Janay Palmer, got into an argument while both were intoxicated. The argument turned physical on both sides and Rice punched Palmer out cold, and it was captured by security cameras at the since-closed Revel casino in Atlantic City.
The NFL imposed a two-game suspension, and while media observers and domestic violence advocates objected, everyone thought Rice would play football in 2014. They were wrong. TMZ released video of the punch and Rice was suspended indefinitely. In another wrinkle, Rice’s suspension was overturned on appeal in December.
Minnesota Vikings receiver Adrian Peterson pled no contest to reckless misdemeanor assault in an incident where he whipped his four-year-old son with a switch. He was put on a special commissioner’s list and not initially suspended but did not play a game in the 2014 season. Both men’s future with the NFL is unclear.
On Saturday, March 8, Malaysia Airlines plane MH370, took off from Kaula Lumpur en route to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew members. Despite an extensive search, it has not been seen or heard from since. If that wasn’t enough, on July 17, another Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down in the Ukraine, believed to the work of Russian separatists in a conflict with Ukrainians in the War of Donbass. 283 passengers and 15 crew members were onboard. All died in the crash.
In 1989, a jogger, later identified as Trisha Meili, was brutalized and raped in New York’s Central Park. Five teenagers were charged and convicted with the crime, via confessions, despite the lack of any physical evidence. In 2002, convicted rapist Matias Reyes confessed to the crime after meeting Kharey Wise, one of the five, in jail.
His DNA was a match and convictions were vacated. In 2014, the City of New York settled a civil rights lawsuit with the five men for $41 million. Yet in a year where police brutality was on the rise, they were not the only ones exonerated after being falsely accused and convicted.
At least two other prominent cases were resolved with vacated convictions this year. You can read about them here and here and here. And the nation’s youngest youth to die in the electric chair, George Stinney, also had his conviction overturned this year – 70 years later.
Two different sets of hackers exposed a lot about celebrity this year – from the hackers who pulled photos of celebs Jill Scott, Kim Kardashian, Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and more from iCloud to the mysterious Guardians of Peace who hacked Sony to stop the release of James Franco and Seth Rogen’s movie The Interview, technology was under siege this year.
9. ISIS/Boko Haram
Global terrrorism was on the rise this year with both Boko Haram and ISIS responsible for some of the year’s worst acts of violence. Nigerian militants Boko Haram kidnap over 250 girls from a Nigerian school to “convert” to Islam and most haven’t been seen or heard from since. A #BringBackOurGirls hashtag stars on social media, but falters as it does nothing to help capture the group. ISIS or The Islamic State claims Islam, but acts in ways that have antithetical to the actual practice of the religion. They are responsible for at least three beheadings this year, including two American journalists.
Titi Branch, co-founder of Miss Jessie’s hair line, along with her sister Miko, died in December of asphyxiation in what is believed to be a suicide. She was 45. Popular blogger Karyn Washington of Forbrowngirls.com committed suicide in March at age 22. Floyd Mayweather associate/aspiring rapper Earl Hayes killed himself and his estranged wife, dancer/actress Stephanie Moseley, 30 of VH1’s Hit The Floor in December. X Factor contestant Simone Battle 25, of G.R.L killed herself in September. Beloved comedian Robin Williams and fashion designer/celebrity girlfriend L’Wren Scott were also prominent people who killed themselves in 2014.
Let’s hope that their deaths were not in vain and that in 2015 we learn better to identify, support and treat those suffering from depression, mental illness and despair.