Hard News by Russell Brown


2011: The Year Of What?

Killer fact: Did you know that the last time the Rugby World Cup was held in New Zealand, it was squeezed between a significant earthquake and a general election? As we greeted the new year, we could not have known that would be the case in 2011 too.

And yet the last Media7 programme for 2010 did focus on what even then seemed set to be a year of major news stories to come. I ventured in the set-up post for the show that there would be

... no shortage of set-piece news events next year. The Urewera 17 will go on trial, Pike River will be thrice investigated and SFO actions against the various troubled financiers will kick in. The Hobbit will swing into production. And, of course, there is also the Rugby World Cup and a general election. 

It turns out we didn't know the half of it. On Feburary 22, Christchurch suffered an aftershock far, far worse than the earthquake in September. 181 people died, many more were traumatised. The massive Japanese earthquake followed, triggering the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. The Arab Spring blossomed, England rioted and the world's economies suffered their own shuddering aftershocks. The United States of America got close to soveriegn default. Rupert Murdoch's media empire began to unravel. A story no one expected to see -- the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden -- sprang from nowhere.

At home, the Urewera tral has been delayed yet again, Pike River has retreated from the headlines, and the Rugby World Cup and the election are looming.

Monday mornings continue to bring extraordinary tidings: today, Gadaffi is gone. The charges against Arie Smith and Michael Davis have been dropped by Christchurch police. And Bernard Hickey linked to this highly lucid and utterly bleak assessment of the global economy by former Reserve Bank of New Zealand advisor Terry McFadgen.

It feels extraordinary: a bigger and more daunting year than anyone expected. But I wonder how we will look back on this year. The year that democracy flowered on unlikely ground? The year we slid into the economic abyss? Or the year of that terrible bloody earthquake?

2011: The Year of What?

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