This will always be the year that we started to learn exactly how far the NSA was going to spy on - not just terrorists and spys and /r/conspiracy frequenters on Reddit - but practically everyone on planet Earth.
Before Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified NSA documents to Guardian journalists, those in the tech world who claimed the NSA was up to no good were brushed aside by “mature” tech CEO’s who saw those outlandish claims as conspiracy theory nonsense that was bad for business.
It turns out that it has been bad for business, but it was no theory. Even as 2013 concludes, we have no idea where this story will end.
So in this context of unraveling government secrecy throughout 2013, what else happened this year that was worth a darn, media-wise? Here’s the remaining top nine:
Newsweek Is Back
The old-line magazine brand started 2013 by ceasing to exist after its final print issue on Dec 31, 2012 once it had nothing left to give Tina Brown. Everyone acted sad to see it go even though no one had read a print edition of Newsweek in years. But wait! In August, the owners announced that the brand was purchased by IBT Media, publisher of the International Business Times and will return to print in January or February 2014.
Dennis Rodman goes to North Korea for Vice
Fueling speculations that he is some sort of diplomat from an alien race sent to Earth to learn the sport of basketball, Dennis Rodman went to North Korea and came back to tell everyone that they had the wrong impression of Kim Jung Un, and that he was, in fact, a really cool dude. Actually what he said was, “I don’t care what the [NSFW] he does over there... we’re friends. I don’t care.” So, 2013 was the year we learned that “an entire nation living under brainwashed servitude to a cult of personality” is among the things that Dennis Rodman doesn’t give a bleep about.
The Boston Bombing and a Nation Mourns
On April 15, 2013, the Boston Marathon descended into chaos after two improvised explosives were detonated at its finish line. This spawned a series of important media moments, including:
• the bombing suspects getting misidentified by the New York Post and Reddit users alike.
• the near real-time coverage of the gunfight that led to the death of one Tsarnaev brother and the capture of the other.
• David Ortiz dropped the F-bomb on national television when he reminded everyone who Boston belonged to.
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Forbes Is for Sale
Forbes has been one of the most reliable magazines published independently for decades. Competing largely against Time Inc’s Fortune, Forbes has done so as a privately held company that never launched an IPO, as many observers had hoped over the years. Instead, the company announced in November 2013, that the whole thing was for sale. So you can’t buy any shares of Forbes, but you can sure buy the whole thing, but you’re going to have to relocate your new magazine somewhere else because Forbes sold its legendary 5th Avenue headquarters to New York University in 2010, and will likely have to vacate in 2015.
Time, Inc. Uncoiled
On March 6, Time Warner announced that it would spin-off Time, Inc. as its own publicly traded company, thus ending the marriage between Time and Warner Communications that began in 1990. Will this be another death blow to old line print media, or the saving grace that allows the media company to assemble investors who better understand how to shepherd the brand through the changed media landscape? No one knows because plans have been delayed until 2014, so stay tuned.
Bezos Bought the Washington Post
It was a deal that brought together a giant of the old media with a giant of the tech disruptors, when it was announced on August 5, that the founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, would be buying The Washington Post for $250 million. Are we getting our newspapers delivered by drones yet?
With its acquisition of Vine to start the year and it’s crazy IPO more recently, Twitter has elevated itself from a mere “social media story” into the space of an “actual media story.” By any measure, 2013 was the year that Twitter grew up.
Sure, he was 95. But when news broke that Nelson Mandela had passed away on December 5, the whole world stopped to pay its respect. On the plane ride aboard Air Force One, George W. Bush showed his paintings to Hillary Clinton on his iPad, and at the funeral, President Obama posed for a selfie with other world leaders.
The New Pope
The Catholic Church kicked the year off by having its top official resign while still alive for the first time in a bazillion years, prompting a global media event of epic proportions. The result of all the hoopla? Pope Francis, who has not only rode the wave of media interest, but also fueled the fire throughout the year by being so surprisingly pope-like, turning the pope’s Twitter account @pontifex from “Oh, really?” to “Oh! Really!” Meanwhile the year ended with Francis landing on the cover of Time as Man of the Year.
Feeling nostalgic? These were the top media moments of 2012.