Compliments of the season to all our readers. I’m not sure how many will be reading at this time of year; no doubt many of you will be away on holidays, and many more may have given up in disgust at the meagre fare being served by the mainstream media.
But news doesn’t stop happening just because journalists are taking a break. In the last few days we’ve had three notable examples: the death of Abdurrahman Wahid, the re-eruption of the revolution in Iran and the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253.
Yet each year the media again make fools of themselves by doing their end-of-year summaries too early. Newspapers were full of them the weekend before Christmas, which means they were probably written when there was more than a fortnight left to go in the year.
But news is often unpredictable. Just in the last thirty years, leaving out the second half of December means missing such newsworthy events as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the Rome and Vienna airport attacks of 1985, the release of Andrei Sakharov in 1986, the Lockerbie bombing of 1988, the Romanian revolution of 1989, the Newcastle earthquake of the same year, Boris Yeltsin’s resignation in 1999, terrorist bombings in Manila in 2000, the Iranian earthquake of 2003, the Asian tsunami of 2004 and the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008.
Not to mention such notable deaths as Marshall McLuhan (1980), Paul de Man (1983), Sam Peckinpah (1984), Harold Macmillan (1986), Samuel Beckett (1989), Fanny Cradock (1994), Dean Martin (1995), Carl Sagan (1996), Willard Quine (2000), Nigel Hawthorne (2001), Susan Sontag (2004), Kerry Packer (2005), Gerald Ford (2006), Benazir Bhutto (2007) and Harold Pinter (2008).
Nothing wrong with trying to sum up the year, but it helps if you wait until it’s finished.