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updated: 12/28/2012 9:21 AM

AP: Mass shootings voted year's top news story

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  • In this photo provided by the Newtown Bee, a police officer leads two women and a child from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.

      In this photo provided by the Newtown Bee, a police officer leads two women and a child from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.
    File

  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, and President Barack Obama spar during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

      Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, and President Barack Obama spar during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

  • Newly elected Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy celebrates his win with wife Cathy Holahan Murphy over Republican Linda McMahon in Hartford, Conn. Murphy's election was one of Connecticut's top stories in 2012.

      Newly elected Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy celebrates his win with wife Cathy Holahan Murphy over Republican Linda McMahon in Hartford, Conn. Murphy's election was one of Connecticut's top stories in 2012.

  • In this July 15, 2012 photo taken in Pleasant Plains, Ill., the sun rises above corn stalks struggling in the heat and continuing drought that has overcome most of the country. The drought that devastated Illinois agriculture industry, was voted the second most important news story in the AP's annual survey of its Illinois member editors and staff.

      In this July 15, 2012 photo taken in Pleasant Plains, Ill., the sun rises above corn stalks struggling in the heat and continuing drought that has overcome most of the country. The drought that devastated Illinois agriculture industry, was voted the second most important news story in the AP's annual survey of its Illinois member editors and staff.

  • Dr. Sonia Nagda puts on a pin supporting the health care reform law signed by President Obama as she gathers with other health care professionals in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, March 26, 2012, as the court begins three days of arguments on the health care.

      Dr. Sonia Nagda puts on a pin supporting the health care reform law signed by President Obama as she gathers with other health care professionals in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, March 26, 2012, as the court begins three days of arguments on the health care.

  • Vice President Joe Biden, right, talks to President Barack Obama at their election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama's defeat of Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was voted the fourth most important news story in the AP's annual survey of its Illinois member editors and staff.

      Vice President Joe Biden, right, talks to President Barack Obama at their election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama's defeat of Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was voted the fourth most important news story in the AP's annual survey of its Illinois member editors and staff.

  • In this Oct. 9, 2012 file photo, former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, is taken from the Centre County Courthouse by Centre County Sheriff Denny Nau, left, and a deputy, after being sentenced in Bellefonte, Pa. Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison, effectively a life sentence, in the child sexual abuse scandal that brought shame to Penn State and led to coach Joe Paterno's downfall.

      In this Oct. 9, 2012 file photo, former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, center, is taken from the Centre County Courthouse by Centre County Sheriff Denny Nau, left, and a deputy, after being sentenced in Bellefonte, Pa. Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison, effectively a life sentence, in the child sexual abuse scandal that brought shame to Penn State and led to coach Joe Paterno's downfall.

  • Construction worker Elabert Salazar works on a house frame for a new home in Chula Vista, Calif. In 2012, the unemployment rate dipped to a four-year-low of 7.7 percent, stock markets rose, builders broke ground on more homes, and November was the best sales month in nearly five years for U.S. automakers.

      Construction worker Elabert Salazar works on a house frame for a new home in Chula Vista, Calif. In 2012, the unemployment rate dipped to a four-year-low of 7.7 percent, stock markets rose, builders broke ground on more homes, and November was the best sales month in nearly five years for U.S. automakers.

  • Ahmed, center, mourns his father Abdulaziz Abu Ahmed Khrer, who was killed by a Syrian Army sniper, during his funeral in Idlib, north Syria.

      Ahmed, center, mourns his father Abdulaziz Abu Ahmed Khrer, who was killed by a Syrian Army sniper, during his funeral in Idlib, north Syria.

  • A parking lot full of yellow cabs is flooded as a result of superstorm Sandy in Hoboken, NJ.

      A parking lot full of yellow cabs is flooded as a result of superstorm Sandy in Hoboken, NJ.

  • Terry Gilbert, left, kisses his husband Paul Beppler after wedding at Seattle City Hall, becoming among the first gay couples to legally wed in the state, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Seattle. Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a voter-approved law legalizing gay marriage Dec. 5 and weddings for gay and lesbian couples began in Washington on Sunday, following the three-day waiting period after marriage licenses were issued earlier in the week.

      Terry Gilbert, left, kisses his husband Paul Beppler after wedding at Seattle City Hall, becoming among the first gay couples to legally wed in the state, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Seattle. Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a voter-approved law legalizing gay marriage Dec. 5 and weddings for gay and lesbian couples began in Washington on Sunday, following the three-day waiting period after marriage licenses were issued earlier in the week.

  • President Barack Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington as he hosted a meeting of the bipartisan, bicameral leadership of Congress to discuss the deficit and economy.

      President Barack Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington as he hosted a meeting of the bipartisan, bicameral leadership of Congress to discuss the deficit and economy.

  • Video: Year in review in video

 
By David Crary, AP National Writer

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 reconduct 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.

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

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.

2. U.S. ELECTION: Mitt Romney outcampaigned an eclectic field of Republican rivals, and bested Obama in their opening head-to-head debate. But on Election Day, thanks in part to a vigorous get-out-the-vote operation, Obama won a second term with a large lead in electoral votes and a solid advantage in popular votes. The GOP hung on to its majority in the House, but lost two seats to remain a minority in the Senate despite early-campaign projections of gains there.

3. SUPERSTORM: As a prelude, the storm named Sandy killed more than 70 people in the Caribbean. Then its high winds and high waters slammed into more than 800 miles of the eastern U.S. seaboard, killing at least 125 more people and causing damage calculated at well over $60 billion -- the second-costliest storm in U.S. history after 2005's Hurricane Katrina. New York and New Jersey were the worst hit, with several hundred thousand homes and businesses damaged or destroyed.

4. OBAMACARE: By a 5-4 margin, the Supreme Court upheld the core elements of Obama's much-debated health care overhaul, which even he embraced as "Obamacare." To widespread surprise, the decisive vote came from John Roberts, the generally conservative-leaning chief justice appointed by Republican George W. Bush.

5. LIBYA: Even amid yearlong turmoil in Libya, it was a jarring incident -- a Sept. 11 assault in Benghazi, widely blamed on a group with suspected links to al-Qaida, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stephens and three other Americans. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, later bowed out of consideration to be the next secretary of state because of her assertions in TV interviews that a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Muslim video triggered the attack.

6. PENN STATE: It was a daunting year for Penn State and its storied football program. In January, longtime coach Joe Paterno died, his legacy tarnished by the sex-abuse scandal involving his former assistant, Jerry Sandusky. In June, after a wrenching trial, Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys, and was later sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.

7. U.S. ECONOMY: By many measures, the economy was on a welcome upswing. The unemployment rate dipped to a four-year-low of 7.7 percent, stock markets rose, builders broke ground on more homes, and November was the best sales month in nearly five years for U.S. automakers. But overshadowing the good news was deep anxiety about the economic consequences if Obama and the Democrats failed to reach a tax-and-spending deal with the Republicans.

8. THE "FISCAL CLIFF": Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner engaged in high-stakes negotiations over a deal to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" that would trigger automatic tax hikes and spending cuts. The leaders narrowed some differences on Social Security and tax rates for the wealthy, but faced intense pressure from their bases to resist certain compromises.

9. GAY MARRIAGE: For supporters of same-sex marriage, it was a year of milestones. Obama, after a drawn-out process of "evolving," said in May he supported the right of gay couples to wed. On Election Day, Maine, Maryland and Washington became the first states to legalize gay marriage via popular vote.

10. SYRIA: What began in 2011 as an outbreak of peaceful protests escalated into full-scale civil war pitting the beleaguered regime of Bashar Assad against a disparate but increasingly potent rebel opposition. The overall death toll climbed past 40,000.

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