Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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January 1, 2013

AP poll lists school tragedy as top story of 2012

NEW YORK — The horrific massacre of 26 children and staff at a Connecticut elementary school, along with other mass shootings, was the top news story of 2012, narrowly edging out the U.S. election, according to The Associated Press' annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.

The results followed a rare decision by the AP to re-conduct the voting. The initial round of balloting had ended Dec. 13, a day before the shootings in Newtown, with the election ranked No. 1, followed by Superstorm Sandy. The original entry for mass shootings, focused on the rampage at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, placed sixth in that voting.

In the new poll, updated to account for Newtown, the mass shootings received 68 first-place votes out of 173 ballots cast for the top 10 stories, compared to 65 first-place votes for the election, one of the closest results since the AP launched the poll in 1936. On a scale of points ranging from 10 for first place to one for 10th place, the shootings tallied 1448 points, compared to 1417 for the election. The second balloting ran Dec. 17-19.

Superstorm Sandy was third, far ahead of the next group of stories.

“After we completed our poll the news agenda was reshaped, tragically, by the Newtown shootings,” said Michael Oreskes, AP's senior managing editor for U.S. news. “To chronicle that we conducted the poll again before releasing both results.”

The U.S.-focused slant of the top stories this year contrasted with last year's voting, when the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan was No. 1, followed by Japan's earthquake/tsunami disaster, and the Arab Spring uprisings that rocked North Africa and the Middle East.

Here are 2012's top 10 stories, in order:

No. 1: Mass shootings

Armed with a high-powered rifle, 20-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and shot dead 20 children — all ages 6 and 7 — and six staff members in the second-worst school massacre in U.S. history. Sadly, it was only one of several mass shootings, including the killing of 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. After the Newtown tragedy, President Barack Obama and many others, including some staunch gun-rights supporters, said it was time to find ways to rein in gun violence.

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