Year-in-review scoreboard

Ah, year-in-review time. It’s when media – particularly newspapers, but others as well – forgo reporting the day-to-day news and take to recapping events that happened within the past 12 months. Some get introspective and discuss how the stories they covered affected them. Others compile the events of the year and try to find some deeper meaning or pattern, something to describe it that is somehow different than the calendar year that preceded it.

And then there are the rankings. Top 10 X of the year, where X can stand for just about anything. Like TIME’s person of the year, they sound like they have a lot more significance than they really do.

More than half a century ago, Canadian Press, the formerly co-operative news service used by the majority of newspapers, started awarding accolades for its Newsmaker of the Year, based on a poll of its members.

These year-ending stories solve three problems that present themselves at this time of year – particularly the week between Christmas and New Year’s:

  1. In newspapers particularly, this is a peak time for advertising. The increased advertising means papers get larger to accommodate them, and that also increases the amount of editorial copy needed.
  2. Like any other worker in a regular job, journalists like to take time off during the holidays. Writing these lookback features is an easy way to bank stories for use when the newsroom is practically deserted and only a skeleton staff of reporters is on duty.
  3. Just about every industry stops doing anything newsworthy during this week. There are few major political announcements, few major reports being released, few major events on television, and little in the way of business stories. In short, there’s very little actual news that happens at this time of year.

So, for these reasons, we live with this phenomenon, though recently it’s come with a bit of a change: Two major competitors have emerged for Canadian Press: Postmedia News (the former Canwest newspapers, including my employer The Gazette) and QMI Agency (Quebecor/Sun Media, including the Journal de Montréal, 24 Heures and the Toronto Sun). As those newspaper chains pulled out of CP, they setup domestic and international bureaus where needed, and shared stories between their papers and clients.

And, of course, they have to choose their own annual newsmakers. After all, what’s the point of setting up your own wire service if you don’t get to have a bit of judgmental fun? (Though it should be pointed out that some of these are based on the votes of the general public, not just journalists and editors in newsrooms.)

With most of the announcements already made, here’s what the scoreboard looks like (winners in bold, with runners-up where given):

Category Canadian Press Postmedia News QMI Agency Others
News story Vancouver Olympics BP oil spill (poll)

Haitian earthquake (editors)

Vancouver Olympics
News maker Russell Williams

Sidney Crosby

Stephen Harper

Justin Bieber

Russell Williams (poll)

Julian Assange (editors)

Russell Williams Maclean’s: Sidney Crosby
Athlete Cyberpresse: Joannie Rochette (online vote)

Lou Marsh Award: Joey Votto Georges St-Pierre (online vote)

Male athlete Sidney Crosby

Joey Votto

Alex Bilodeau

Jonathan Toews

Joey Votto

Sidney Crosby

Jonathan Toews

Alex Bilodeau

Erik Guay

Joey Votto CBC: Joey Votto
Female athlete Joannie Rochette

Clara Hughes

Christine Nesbitt

Maëlle Ricker

Jennifer Heil

Christine Nesbitt

Joannie Rochette

Heather Moyse

Joannie Rochette CBC: Joannie Rochette
Sports team Olympic men’s hockey team

Montreal Alouettes (CFL)

Olympic women’s hockey team

Olympic men’s hockey team

Kevin Martin curling team

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (ice dancing)

Olympic men’s hockey team

Kevin Martin curling team

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (ice dancing)

Université Laval football team

CBC: Olympic men’s hockey team
Business event Shale gas exploration

Canadian debt

Earl Jones sentence

“Eric and Lola”

Quebec 2010-11 budget


Business personality Jim Flaherty Pierre-Karl Péladeau


BNN: Brad Wall

It doesn’t stop there, though. Many news outlets come up with other “of the year”s:

And, of course, there are local newsmakers of the year, and plenty of lists of top picks for just about everything a beat reporter can think of.

Hang in there, folks. Real news should return within a week or so.

*QMI Agency prompted a lot of guffawing on Twitter when it broadcasted that Pierre-Karl Péladeau was its business personality of the year. The news was based on a poll (apparently only done in Quebec, though that’s not made clear in the story), and Report on Business Magazine also named him one of three CEOs of the year. But still, having your own news agency pay so much attention to you is a bit … weird, at least.

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