1999 in Review: A Reader Request

A little-discussed consequence of the pending calendar turn is the impact it is likely to have on one of the more hackneyed journalistic traditions: the year-in-review survey.

At most major news organizations, the advent of the holiday season means that reporters, photo editors, and the like can kick back a little and set about preparing stories, and sometimes whole broadcasts and magazine issues, dedicated to what happened during the previous year. Since the events in question were already news once, retelling their stories involves little more than scanning the clips and yanking some file photos–which is fortunate, because there are Christmas and Hanukkah presents to buy, parties to attend, and vacation destinations to get to.

This year, however, journalists are likely to spend the holiday season researching stories reviewing the entire millennium, or perhaps just the century, or (at the less-ambitious media outlets) the decade, all of which will end at the same moment. Hardly anyone, Chatterbox predicts, will bother with the usual ritual of reviewing merely the previous 365 days. There may be some justification in this. When Chatterbox thinks back on 1999, what he mostly remembers is everyone marveling at or fretting about or otherwise thinking of the momentous significance of the coming year. But a friend reminds Chatterbox that a few things did happen in 1999. We fought an air war in Kosovo. There was a new Star Wars movie. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issued findings of fact in the Microsoft antitrust case that seemed to raise the possibility that the most powerful software company on earth would be smashed into itty-bitty pieces. There was …

Hmm. Chatterbox can’t remember anything else.

Readers are invited to nominate events suitable for commemoration in Chatterbox’s “year in review” item, which Chatterbox would like to post before Thanksgiving (in order to beat all the various century/millennium/decade-in-review surveys). Best and worst movies, books, and TV shows are also welcome, along with lists of the most significant obits of the year; and if anyone comes up with a list that has never been thought of before, even better. Chatterbox will publish only the findings that he agrees with. Please do not post nominations in the Fray. Instead, please send them to Void where prohibited by law. Cogito ergo sum. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. La table mérite un detour. Gotta catch ‘em all, Pokémon. Yo quiero Taco Bell. The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. Etc.