Help me find notable events from 2008
January 25, 2009 12:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm doing a centerfold feature in my high school newspaper, sort of a Year in Review type of article. It's not a terribly high standard obviously, but we like to think we're a quality publication in terms of high school printing.

Anyway, its going to be largely news-based, so I'm looking for interesting, significant, arbitrary, odd events and happenings of 2008. The events will be ordered randomly but some of them like a Harper's Index, to eventually make a point.

For example--Nov 4, 2008: Barack Obama is Elected President of the United States, and is the first African-American to achieve this position. CNN News Anchor Jessica Yellin, reporting from Chicago, is the first reporter to be "beamed in" by hologram. Wolf Blitzer: "All right. Big round of applause. We did it. There she is, Jessica Yellin."

Other things I was going to mention, so you can get an idea--Australia apologizes to its aborigines, Sarah Palin catapults Tina Fey to new heights of Awesome via Comedy Central, Fish can count to four, China has an Earthquake (Sharon Stone calls it Karma), etc.

I'm going to be scouring MeFi, but I don't have a long time to complete the article so interesting things may be overlooked. Fellow staffers on the paper are swamped with studying for finals too, so they've proved, uh, relatively unreliable. Therefore I look to you, the people I consider Elite Nomads of the Internet.

Do you have any articles out there for me, please?
posted by mmmleaf to Society & Culture (10 answers total)
A few things come to mind:

1) Rethink whether you can really get this done in the time you have. Why not make a centerfold feature about the election/inauguration? Your classmates would appreciate that as a keepsake, and you can go around and ask for quotes from random students about what the political events meant to them. Who voted for the first time? How did it feel? Etc.

2) This isn't technically a "do my homework" question, but you're kind of asking others to slog through Metafilter for you. I'm pretty sure that violates whatever journalistic standards you may personally be aspiring to achieve. Maybe the site guidelines too, I dunno.

3) Go to a public library, a large one if possible, and ask a librarian to show you how to use news databases to search for articles. You should be able to do a lot of this at home by searching google news and "news of the weird" columns, but maybe you need an introduction to doing research a librarian could provide. Appealing to the metafilter community is great for some things, but you could finish this project in two hours of dedicated research time on your own.

You've already come up with a few items, how many do you realistically need? If you get commentary from students, that'd whittle down the final number of items too.

The hologram thing is not newsworthy, I don't even think it's amusing (I am not 17, however, so I'm not your target demographic)

4) You say you want to want your entries to "eventually make a point." What's your point? If you have a point, then it should be easy to scan the internet for headlines that drive home your point. If you don't have a point, do the sure-to-be-popular, memorable and easy 1) above.
posted by vincele at 12:57 AM on January 25, 2009

I guess if I wanted to accurately rewrite the question + commentary it would say something like:

I'm searching for links and it's hard to go way back to January. Please name things that happened this year that you deem important, and I might overlook. For example. I'm going to remember protests by Tibetan monks, but probably not something like snow falling in Baghdad for the first time in a century. I'll do all the research, I just need a name or event. Something to put into Google I guess.

If you think you're doing homework for me, you don't have to answer. I'm just afraid I'll forget something. I guess I'm not worried about a time frame though, because I don't really sleep and this serves as satisfying procrastination.

posted by mmmleaf at 1:10 AM on January 25, 2009

As I said, it is easy to go back to January 2008 if you use search tools a librarian can show you how to use.

If you can't sleep, go to a big news publication website and teach yourself how to search archives. NYT, Slate, whatever. Read "year in review" articles published in Dec. 2008 to get a sense of what happened in the last 12 months.

Only you know what your audience cares about. If you don't, then you need to do the reading I already suggested. That is the honest way to do this feature.

In a few hours more people may chime in with concrete examples. You might need to permission or need to cite the author of each metafilter post you use.

From my experience with journalists and their ethics, I don't think this would pass muster. I sympathize with the pressure you're under, it sucks. College won't get easier, nor will a career in professional journalism.

If you do decide to collect examples from metafilter, you need to clear this with whatever adult is in charge of the paper. I'm a professor and I'd definitely not allow you to publish a piece for which askme members did your gruntwork. Not only would I refuse to publish your piece, I'd temper my enthusiasm in any recommendation letter I'd write about your aptitude for journalism.

I teach many ambitious kids your age who do not get what is acceptable when it comes to the internet. Your confusion is understandable. But you need to learn to do internet research correctly now before you get to college or called out for plagiarism.
posted by vincele at 2:39 AM on January 25, 2009

wait, do you mean...copying links that have already been found? Or entries people have typed out? I'm not intending to do that. I'm not sure I understand.

Do you think its unethical to just use links here and there? I'm using Metafilter to find websites it linked me to in the past, and then research around it. I mean, I'm searching through news websites and such but I guess I don't have the research skills to find that one article I read one time ago via Google, so I insert keywords into MeFi and there it is.

Is it unacceptable to find links this way?
posted by mmmleaf at 2:53 AM on January 25, 2009

It sounds like he's just looking for search terms and/or a list of events, off the top of their heads, which he will then research and write up. Sounds fine.

Besides searching for "year in review" articles, which could give you some good laundry lists, you might consider looking for this type of thing through different publications -- i.e., "People" magazine will give you a different list of notable events than "Scientific American".

Check out the NASA site / news releases for the year.

The first ever Cute Overload calendar was published in 2008 (for 2009). It's kind of bad that that's the only actual event I can think of, but there you go. Maybe it's significant because it a) comes from a blog, and b) the subject matter isn't politics or computers.
posted by amtho at 3:05 AM on January 25, 2009

I mean he's just looking for _people's suggestions_ for search terms off the tops of their heads...
posted by amtho at 3:06 AM on January 25, 2009

The New Zealander who reached the summit of mt everest first, with Sherpa(or possibly Tibetan) Tenzing Norgay, Sir Edmund Hillary, died in January. I thought that was one of the big deaths of the year. The iconic summit picture is of Tenzing because he didn't know how to use a camera to take a shot of Hillary.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:30 AM on January 25, 2009

The 2008 MTV Music Awards nominated National Treasure: Book of Secrets as picture of the year. Executive producer Mark Burnett says, "I consider the MTV Movie Awards to be the most relevant movie award show in America today."

I'm not sure I could provide anything else that would top this.
posted by disclaimer at 8:17 AM on January 25, 2009

Sorry: forgot the link.
posted by disclaimer at 8:19 AM on January 25, 2009

One of those secrets of journalism, and nearly every kind of publication does dumb "Year in Review" pieces, is to make an ongoing list throughout the year. That way, it's much, much easier to cherry-pick as you go through, and if you toss a blurb on them when you annotate, you've pretty much gotten the whole thing written by the end of the year. It's practically necessity if you do arts journalism or anything specialized.

Luckily, you're going broad, so you have access to the Lazy Journalist's Friend: Wikipedia.

Check any wires you subscribe to too, as they usually have year-end round-ups, and so long as you can write up your own blurbs, you can steal their events.

Couple more things: this will be much more interesting to your audience if the events that were important come from the student body itself, so instead of polling MeFi, get out there and make some calls. Super pander power: Sporting event wins or cultural events at your school. Merely by putting them next to the conflict in South Ossetia, things will feel more important.
posted by klangklangston at 11:05 AM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

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