JMU Journalism news review of 2018

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Giants Spectacular. Pic © Nadia Breen JMU Journalism; Sir Ken Dodd. Pic © Wikimedia Commons; Brexit protest match during the Labour Party Conference. Pic © JMU Journalism

As another year draws to an end and people across the region prepare for the festive season, we reflect on the biggest news and sporting headlines from 2018.

In a year that has consisted of as many celebrations and commemorations as it has memorials and loss, Liverpool’s largest news team has been on hand to provide its readers with all the latest updates.

Perhaps the most notable event in Liverpool’s calendar this year was the last performance by the Giants Spectacular, as they walked around Merseyside for the final part of their trilogy in October.

The street production, hosted by the Royal de Luxe theatre company from Nantes, attracted more than a million visitors to see a combined 20-mile journey.

YouTube: JMU Journalism TV

However, the event did not come without its complaints, as Merseyrail closed multiple stations across the Wirral and made significant changes to services over the weekend of the Giants in a bid to include extra carriages for more frequent services.

Merseyrail’s ongoing dispute with the RMT Union has been a regular theme in our coverage during a year that seems to have had more rail strikes than DFS has sales. The row regarding on-board staffing arrangements on its new fleet of trains has resulted in 16 days of industrial action since the spring of 2017, and counting.

Political confusion, heated debates over Brexit and whether Theresa May can survive as Prime Minister – or Donald Trump as US President – have dominated the headlines internationally.

Liverpool hosted the Labour Party conference in September, as leader Jeremy Corbyn was the star attraction at an opening rally featuring speeches by local politicians and Merseyside bands.

Elsewhere that weekend, thousands of chanting anti-Brexit protesters trooped through the city centre streets and campaigners were out in force to support the notion of a ‘People’s Vote’ before the UK leaves the European Union.

In October, JMU Journalism exclusively interviewed Home Secretary Sajid Javid during a visit to Westminster. MP Javid spoke to us about his views on the National Police Memorial Trust and the importance of building a monument dedicated to fallen police officers.

YouTube: Joe Maude & Kerry Norman, JMU Journalism TV

The death of local showbiz legend, Sir Ken Dodd, left the city saddened in March. Sir Ken, known to generations for his stage and screen work over a career spanning seven decades, lost his life after suffering with a serious chest infection, which had seen him hospitalised for six weeks. The Knotty Ash resident passed away in the same house he was born in.

YouTube: JMU Journalism TV

The lives of those lost in conflict were commemorated at Remembrance Day memorials in November, including Liverpool’s main service outside St George’s Hall, with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I forming the backdrop to this year’s events.

Terracotta warriors pic © Rohin Jalota JMU Journalism

Back in February, the city welcomed in the Chinese New Year of the Dog, as the annual and highly colourful parade attracted the crowds once again.

Having one of the largest and oldest Chinese communities in Europe, Liverpool’s celebration of its culture continued with the debut of the famous Terracotta Warriors exhibition at the World Museum.

Revealed as the most popular exhibition ever held by National Museums Liverpool, the spectacle brought in £78m towards the local economy during an eight-month stay in the city, after more than 600,000 people travelled from far and wide to see them.

The River of Light display returned in November to celebrate Bonfire Night on Merseyside. In its third year, the free event provided a massive display to light up the skies, and a variety of street performances to entertain crowds.

Fireworks at the River of Light Festival in Liverpool, 2018. Pic © Orlaith Clinton JMU Journalism

Tens of thousands of spectators visited Liverpool and the Wirral’s waterfront, with estimates suggesting that almost double the amount of people turned out for the fireworks than in 2017.

Liverpool is a metropolis which thrives on its well-deserved title of ‘Kindest City in the UK’. It is said that about 55% of residents perform an act of kindness every day, so it is perhaps fitting that each year we host one of the few-of-its-kind Mental Health Festivals.

In light of Mental Health Awareness Day, various venues across the city banded together for a five-day event which combined arts and creativity through a range of activities and displays.

Statistics show that one in four people in the UK will suffer with mental health issues at some point in their life. Research by the Liverpool Mental Health Centre found that the city holds one of the highest rates of depression and anxiety in the country, with one in three GP appointments made locally being related to mental health.

YouTube: Joe Maude, JMU Journalism TV

In May, almost 18 million Brits tuned in to see the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex say ‘I do’ at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exchanged vows and were declared husband and wife in front of a global audience of hundreds of millions, making it the most-watched TV event of the year.

Level 3 celebrate after winning the 2018 JMU Journalism World Cup Final. Pic © JMU Journalism

While Gareth Southgate’s England heroes had the nation cheering and dreaming of glory this summer, there was only one World Cup as far as our third years were concerned.

The graduating class managed a hat-trick of victories in the ninth annual JMU Journalism World Cup in March with a 5-1 win against Level 1.

JMU Journalism students managed to pick up priceless experience by going behind the scenes at Lord’s during an England cricket Test, while press passes were secured for Liverpool’s Champions League nights at Anfield again, after a season where they reached the final only to lose 3-1 against Real Madrid.

We said farewell to our class of 2018 reporters as they completed their three-year stint earlier this year with a grand ceremony at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral in July.

YouTube: JMU Journalism TV

Thousands of Scouse Santas in red and blue suits hit town earlier this month for the 15th annual Santa Dash. The famous Liverpool run took place on the first Sunday in December, with runners, walkers, joggers and a few furry crawlers doing their bit for various charities.

JMU Journalism’s annual ball returned once again, raising cash for Macmillan Cancer Support. Our journalists swapped their newsday attire and scrubbed up for the fourth year of festive laughs and dancing. More than 120 students and staff headed to Liverpool’s Holiday Inn for the bash, where it was announced that another record total had been raised for the charity.

This concludes our reporting for 2018, but stay tuned as JMU Journalism will be back to bring you the latest news, sports and entertainment updates from our vibrant region when we return in 2019.

In the meantime, we would like to wish all of our readers, listeners and viewers a Merry Christmas and the happiest of new years.

About Annie Williams, JMU Journalism