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Columbia Missourian

DEAR READER: And the winner of the top news story of the year is...

By Tom Warhover
December 10, 2010 | 6:09 p.m. CST

Dear Reader,

The vote is in for the top six national and international news stories of the year.

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They are: the November elections; the Gulf oil spill; the economy (or lack of a good one); the passage of the health care overhaul; the release of sensitive military and diplomatic documents on WikiLeaks; and China’s ascendance as the second-biggest economy in the world.

That’s my irresolute, rock-un-solid vote in The Associated Press annual poll of its member news organizations.

Annual top stories are a just-add-water recipe for those days when there’s not much news to shepherd in the new year. News staffs and sources take vacations. Governments and businesses get more work done on bowl game pools than on budgets.

So the AP sends out nominees, editors vote, and the AP returns stuffing to fill hungry news pages. (You’ve probably known all along that the definition of news is more elastic than Silly Putty.)

The process was old when George Kennedy was young.

If the news of the day is considered the first, rough cut at history, annual top 10 lists must be the second.

But it all seems somewhat, mmmm, undemocratic these days.

Shouldn’t you have a vote in these momentous decisions? So what if it’s not quite as important as voting for Shakespeare’s as top pizza joint in the land?

So I’m putting the full list of nominated events online. It’s your chance to turn news into sport. Vote early, vote often.

Like any good politician, I faithfully promise to follow the will of the people, so long as it generally fits with my own fine judgment and that of my fellow editors, who get paid to know more than you do about U.S. efforts to extradite Roman Polanski.

I’ll throw out the votes for really silly, made-for-TV nominees: “reservoir bursts at aluminum plant in Hungary, flooding towns with caustic red sludge.” Hey, I’m as sensitive to the plight of red sludge as anyone. But, c’mon. Isn’t Elena Kagan’s swearing in to the Supreme Court just a little bigger?

Other caveats and quid pro quo apply. Your mileage may vary.

Otherwise, I’m your representative. Tell me the tops, so I can sway voters from Moline to Mayberry.

It’s important work we do here. This isn’t your right, but it is your responsibility.

Because we editors say so.

Tom

Vote below for the top national and international stories of the year, as nominated by The Associated Press. Please choose no more than 10 stories total between both categories.