Year In Review: Top News Stories of 2020

By Callia Gilligan, ’22

Staff Writer

2020 was a tumultuous year, to say the least. The news cycle seemed to be one of the greatest sources of stress for the global population, with one major story after another. Here are the top 10 news stories of 2020:

  • Australian Wild Fires

A year ago in a major climate crisis, wildfires raged their way through the Australian bush, killing much of its vegetation and animals. They first started burning in July of 2019 and continued into March of 2020. Scientists believe that nearly three billion animals were affected by the fires. However, the Australian people, government, and most importantly, firefighters showed great resilience in combating such a devastating loss. 

  • Assassination of Qasem Soleimani 

On January 3rd, an American drone targeted and killed Iranian military general Quasem Soleimani near the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq. Subsequently, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution to expel all foreign troops, while Iran moved toward abandoning the 2015 international nuclear deal. The attack greatly increased tensions between the United States, Iraq and Iran. 

  • The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Give Up Senior Royal Title

What came as a shock to many, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped down and gave up their position as Senior Royals of England. This came less than a year after the birth of their son, Archibald. The former Duke and Duchess made it clear that they wished to give their son as normal a life as possible, shielded from the public eye and scrutiny the royal family often faces. The family then took residence in Montecito, California!

  • Trump Impeached, Acquitted 

 At the end of 2019, President Trump faced the Articles of Impeachment of Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress from House of Representatives Democrats for his actions during a phone call with the Ukrainian President. Trump became the third President to be impeached and the first to have a fully partisan impeachment, as not a single representative from the Republican party voted to convict. His Senate trial carried into 2020; however, the Senate with a Republican majority voted to acquit him, the Articles were dropped and he was not removed from office. 

  • Coronavirus and Stay-At-Home Orders

Of course, this would not be a 2020 list without mention of COVID. Outside of politics, the Coronavirus was probably the biggest news story in the early months of last year. However, it all culminated locally the week of March 13th when stay-at-home orders from almost all 50 states was officially put in place. Schools were canceled, businesses were closed and masks were required everywhere we went. For the remainder of the year, COVID-19 was the centerpiece of the news cycle.

  • George Floyd Murder and Black Lives Matter 

On May 25th in Minneapolis, an African American man named George Floyd died after a police officer suffocated him by kneeling on his neck for eight minutes. Just a few weeks earlier, video footage of the death of Muhammed Arbery, a Black man murdered by two white men while he was jogging in Georgia, came to light as well. And thus erupted mass protests in all 50 states and many other countries against racism and police brutality in America. While many reflected and educated themselves on the issues in our country during this time,  others emerged spewing extreme hate and bigotry. The long-brewing divide in this country grew worse amid many occurrences of violence. 

  • The Biden-Harris Ticket

In August, in what became a rare glimmer of hope in a difficult year, Joe Biden officially announced his Vice Presidential pick, Senator Kamala Harris! The choice made Harris, a senator from California, the first woman of color to be included on a major party ticket. In April, when Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race to be the Democratic nominee for president, Biden was the presumptive nominee. However, he was officially nominated in  August during the Democratic National Convention. 

  • Ruth Bader Ginsberg Dies

The notorious RBG, a longtime justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, passed away on September 18th. The American public mourned her death. As a lawyer, Ginsberg was a champion for equality in reproductive rights, workplace discrimination, and criminal procedure. She emphasized the need for men and women to have equal rights and in the 1975 Weinberger v. Weisenfeld argued that fathers who are widowed should be entitled to the same benefits as widowed mothers. Her fight continued after her appointment to the Supreme Court during the Clinton administration. She was a beloved woman and a feminist icon. After her death, her vacancy on the Court was filled by conservative justice Amy Coney Barrett. 

  • The 2020 Presidential Election 

It dominated the news for all of 2020 – from the debates to the party conventions, to the endless political ads. But on November 3rd, Americans cast their ballots for either Joe Biden or Donald Trump. For four days, the election was all anyone talked about. Due to coronavirus, many voters cast their ballots through the mail. This led to what felt like an excruciatingly long ballot-counting process. It was a very close call, resulting in recounts in Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia. But on Saturday, November 7th, Democrat Joe Biden was officially declared the winner of the race. This meant vice-president-elect, Kamala Harris, would be the first woman, Black and South Asian person to hold such a high office. On December 13th, electors cast their votes, certifying the election result. Joe Biden was able to flip many swing states that had voted for Donald Trump in 2016 including Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Michigan. In addition, Georgia flipped to blue (even on the Senator level after the January 6th runoff election) for the first time since 1992. Republican Donald Trump and his supporters refused to accept the results, fighting for months in courts across the country and continuing to insist the election was rigged even after the new president was inaugurated in January 2021.

  • COVID-19 Vaccine 

What felt like the longest year in existence was brought to a happy close with the hopeful news of a vaccine in the near future. In December, Pfizer announced a vaccine with a 95% efficacy and Moderna followed soon after. Almost two weeks later, the first doses were administered. While there have been some hiccups in vaccine distribution, we are all thankful to know that hopefully soon COVID will be a memory of the past!

While 2020 challenged us all in many ways that we were unprepared for, hope is not lost. While battling racial injustice, extreme civil unrest, and a global pandemic, we have all proved that as a society, we have the ability to persevere, through even the darkest of times.

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