Top 10 Stories of 2001
History has recorded many turning points—events that on account of their political or social magnitude have changed the world, marking the end of one era and the beginning of another....But very few times, perhaps never as on Sept. 11, 2001, have these events occurred in a matter of seconds, in the time it took a Boeing to slice through a steel and glass building and touch off a conflagration capable of bringing down one of the greatest structures ever erected by humans, while the whole planet looked on live and direct in speechless horror. Only one thing was certain: Something had changed forever....It is difficult to remember the events that were news this year, because what happened before Sept. 11 seems so far away in time.
|The Associated Press|
survey of U.S. editors
• Sept. 11 attacks
The Pew Research Center
• Terrorism attack on the U.S. (10/17-21)
|The Associated Press |
survey of international editors
• Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States and the
China Daily, Beijing, China
• Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States
The Japan Times, Tokyo, Japan
• War in Afghanistan
Matichon Daily, Bangkok, Thailand the editors
• Sept. 11 attack on the twin towers, New York
Reporter, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Perica Vucinic, editor
The News, Lagos, Nigeria,
• Terrorist attack on the United States
La Nación, San José, Costa Rica, Eduardo Ulibarri, editor
• Terrorist attack on the United States
“The greatest change produced by Sept. 11 was the unmistakable sensation that things had changed,” wrote Daniel Samper Pizano in El Tiempo of Bogotá, echoing the comments of many journalists abroad in their reviews of the year. “The sheer force of the strike...shattered the security and tranquility of the United States; it shook the foundations of the economy; it turned the international geopolitical map upside down; it stirred up xenophobia and religious mistrust, and it showed that the world was indeed round; in other words, what happens at one point on the globe can affect a point clear on the other side.”
Other major stories on international editors’ top-10 lists: the slowdown in the world economy accelerated by the events in September; fear of anthrax; renewed violence in the Middle East; China’s admission to the World Trade Organization; and the arrest of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic and his extradition to The Hague.
The inauguration of George W. Bush made headlines abroad, as did the impeachment of the Philippine and Indonesian presidents; the devastating earthquake in Gujarat, India, that killed 20,000 people; ethnic and religious violence in Nigeria; the mapping of the human genome and the debate over embryo cloning; and in Europe, the advent of the euro and the twin scourges of mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease. Two year-end stories also were cited by editors abroad: Argentina’s economic collapse and the rising tension between Pakistan
The 354 news editors and broadcasters surveyed by AP in the United States also selected the Sept. 11 attacks and the war on terrorism as the year’s most important stories, followed by anthrax bioterrorism, the recession, and the inauguration of Bush. The only international story on the top-10 list, aside from the war in Afghanistan, was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The biggest story of the summer, the media-driven obsession with the scandal involving California’s Congressman Gary Condit and the disappearance of Washington, D.C., intern Chandra Levy, had faded from memory. It seemed to belong to another time, the pre-Sept. 11 era—“an extension of the ’90s,” as Doug Ward wrote in The Vancouver Sun, “a bland, happy era when sexual indiscretion in the Oval Office was what passed for
According to the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which conducts monthly surveys of interest by Americans in major news stories, public interest in the news “was modest at best” during the first eight months of 2001. The rising price of gas and China’s release of a detained American air crew in April were the only stories followed closely by the majority of Americans. But in mid-September, 96 percent of those surveyed by Pew said they were following news about the Sept. 11 attacks “very closely” or “fairly closely.”
“The change in news interest in the post-Sept. 11 period was striking,” the Pew Center said. “On average, just 23 percent of the public paid very close attention to the typical news story before the attacks, which is comparable to yearly averages since 1990, but after the attacks that number more than doubled, to 48 percent.”
In a Pew survey in December, two-thirds of respondents agreed that they were now more generally interested in the news, with 53 percent tuning into cable television as their first choice for coverage of the war on terrorism.
Eight of the top 10 stories on Pew’s U.S. news interest index for 2001 related to the terrorist attacks and the U.S. military response. The year’s top foreign story, aside from the war against terrorism and the release of the U.S. crew in China, was violence in the Middle East, watched closely in December by 31 percent of Americans.
“The terrorist attacks and the war in Afghanistan have created a new internationalist sentiment among the public,” the Pew Center reported on Oct. 24. “There is much more support for a multilateral foreign policy than before Sept. 11, with roughly 59 percent [of respondents] now saying that the interests of allies should be taken into account by U.S. policymakers” and 61 percent agreeing that taking an active role in the world will become a more effective way of avoiding problems like terrorism in the future.
Indeed, as Tokyo’s The Japan Times wrote in its year-end wrap-up, about Sept. 11, “the world became infinitely smaller for Americans.”