The great American philosopher Yogi Berra famously said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
Don’t believe it? Ask Jared.
Jared, you should know, was a one-man band at FoxNews.com on Christmas Night, 2004. He was flying solo on the news desk for two good reasons:
No. 1, he was very, very bright and very, very good at his job.
No. 2, he was Jewish. And like I said, it was Christmas night.
We’ll come back to Jared in a minute. But first, let’s have a look at the Associated Press’ Top Ten Stories of 2014:
- Police Killings (Ferguson, MO, Staten Island, NY)
- Ebola Outbreak
- Islamic State
- U.S. Elections
- Malaysia Airlines Mystery
- Turmoil in Ukraine
- Gay Marriage
- VA Scandal
It’s a pretty good list, but … Where’s the U.S. resuming relations with Cuba after half a century? Where’s the CIA Torture — ummmmm, I mean the CIA enhanced interrogation methods — report? Seems to me those two belong on this list.
But they’re not there, because who wants to wait till the end of the year to name the Top Ten Stories of the Year? Nobody, that’s who.
AP comes up with its list by polling editors and news directors in the U.S., and the replies have to be in and compiled long before the end of the year if they’re going to be published before the year actually ends. This year, the Top Ten list was released on December 22, a mere 10 days before the end of the year — or, if my math is correct (which admittedly is highly unlikely), with 2.7 percent of the year remaining.
But hey . . . the year is almost over, right? What could go wrong?
As I was saying, Jared was at the helm of the Starship FoxNews.com on Christmas night. I was a senior editor there at the time, and, like everyone else in the news business, we had dutifully compiled our Top Ten Stories of the Year, which we planned to publish a few days before New Year’s Day. We spent a lot of time and effort putting this baby together, because we weren’t just going to do a words-and-pictures story that anyone could easily edit or rewrite or renumber. Noooooo . . . We were going to design it in this fancy schmancy new Internet thingy called Flash, which meant it would be edgy and cool and interactive and all those gee-whiz things the Web was supposed to be.
And, holy cow, we even had somebody in the Art Department downstairs who knew how to create a Flash presentation. So we dotcom types compiled our Top Ten and sent it to him, along with our recommended pictures and words and links and stuff, and he put together a cool presentation. The guy was a bit short on the grammar and spelling skills, and we had to go back and forth with multiple rounds of corrections and revisions that only he could make, but we finally got it right and everybody was happy. So the designer announced “Last Call!” and we all reviewed it one more time, and then we signed off on it because it was cool and edgy and state-of-the-art and Internetty and Flashy. Everyone was happy and we decided we’d post it on the website a few days before New Year’s Day, whereupon our Flash designer from the Art Department left for a one-week vacation in Hawaii.
Because what could go wrong?
As I was saying many paragraphs ago, it was Christmas night, 2004, and since we were very short of Jews, we planned to have Jared work till around 3 in the morning and leave the site unattended until the morning crew came in at 7. He had a predictably quiet and easy night — nothing newsworthy ever happens on Christmas night — and before he turned off the lights and went home or to a Chinese restaurant, he fired off his overnite note for the morning crew, the very last line of which read something like:
There’s been an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia. Might be worth watching.
Yeah, you can’t make this stuff up.
That earthquake turned into something very worth watching. We’re talking about this:
And now we had a problem. I don’t remember what our Top Story of 2004 was on our fancy, Flashy Top Ten list — my guess is that it was Bush beating Kerry — but whatever it was, it wasn’t a bigger story than a tsunami that killed an estimated 230,000 people in 14 countries on the morning of December 26.
And that meant we needed to put a new No. 1 at the top of our Top Ten Stories of 2004, and there was nobody within 5,000 miles of midtown Manhattan who knew how to do it. And this was before everyone had a BlackBerry and checked his email every 10 seconds.
Long story short, a frantic search located somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody who managed to find our guy in Hawaii, and after telling us a million reasons why he couldn’t do it without flying back to New York, he actually found a way to change the Flash presentation from wherever he was staying. And, miraculously, the tsunami became the No. 1 story of the year on FoxNews.com’s Top Ten Stories of 2004.
I have no idea what the AP’s Top Ten were that year, but I’m sure the tsunami didn’t make the cut.
Because, seriously now, what’s the point of waiting till the end of the year to reveal the Top Ten Stories of the Year? It’s not like a major Hollywood company could have all its emails and employee information revealed by computer hackers who go on to threaten terrorist acts that will dwarf 9/11 if a film depicting the assassination of Kim Jong-un premieres on Christmas, and that the U.S. government will blame North Korea for the hacking and vow to retaliate . . . or that a large passenger jet could vanish between Indonesia and Singapore . . . or a ferry carrying hundreds could catch fire between Greece and Italy . . .
Nah . . . Nothing newsworthy ever happens in late December. At least, nothing newsworthy enough to affect the Top Ten Stories of the Year.
Don’t believe it? Ask Jared.
— 30 —
It ain’t over till it’s over. Exactly.
I wrote a review of this year even earlier than Fox, in the opening days of December. Personally, it has been well since and so far. But nationally, we had a disaster in Peshawar. It hit hard and I couldn’t help thinking: Begone, 2014! I don’t want more tragedies, I don’t want the death toll worsening. And I definitely don’t want to see children dying. It’s still there, my review. But it wouldn’t be what it is now, had I waited till the end of the year to write it.