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FOR THE WEEK OF JAN. 04, 2021

Year-ahead preview: These topics and events will make front page news in 2021

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What upcoming activity or events are you most interested in? Tell why.
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Pick a photo or article about someone sure to be in the paper again during 2021. Do you want to read more about that person?
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Choose coverage of another ongoing topic and explain why it'll stay newsworthy.

We're super-ready for a fresh start, just as you, your family, your friends and your teachers are. So here's a brief look at topics sure to make news in 2021. The biggest stories still will involve Covid-19, naturally. Government and individual responses to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will continue affecting education, business, politics, sports, entertainment, recreation and the economy. "There are good reasons to believe that the United States is about to experience a dramatic turnaround in its fight against the coronavirus, even as much remains uncertain," University of North Carolina sociologist Zynep Tufekci writes at The Atlantic magazine recently. "Keep your fingers crossed, knock on wood. . . . The future—even the near future—looks hopeful, even as the current moment looks particularly grim."

A priority now is getting two drug makers' approved vaccines distributed to millions of Americans, a response that began in mid-December. "If it turns out that only 50 percent get vaccinated, then it's going to take much, much longer to get back to the kind of normality that we'd like to see," says Dr. Anthony Fauci, a White House adviser who agreed to stay on the job. A second priority is additional economic relief from Congress and the next president, Joe Biden, for laid-off workers, struggling businesses and hard-hit states, cities and school districts. How fast both of those things happen will go a long way toward getting people healthy, keeping them that way, as well as getting people back to in-person classes, work, restaurants, arenas and other leisure activities. "After a grim year of withdrawal, fear, anxiety and solitude, we will become human again," posts Andrew Sullivan, blogging at The Weekly Dish. But after a stunning year that disrupted everything, life won't just snap back to normal. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez puts it this way: "We're not going back to brunch."

The incoming Democratic president and vice president, Kamala Harris, will be inaugurated (sworn in) Jan. 20 on the Capitol steps in Washington, D.C. – a ceremony with reduced public attendance for health safety. Returning and new members of Congress took their oaths of office Sunday – except for Georgia's two senators. Those seats are being filled this Tuesday (Jan. 5) in runoff elections because no candidate in either race won 50% of the vote in November. If Republicans hold onto at least one Georgia seat, they'll keep the Senate majority. If Democrats win both, the U.S. Senate will be split 50-50, with Harris as the tie-breaking vote.

Big-deal events this year include the Academy Awards on April 25 for movies, actors, directors, writers and others who make screen entertainment. That Los Angeles event was rescheduled from February because of the pandemic, its first delay in 40 years. Studios can nominate films that opened in 2020 or the first two months of this year. This summer, about 15,000 top athletes from around the world gather in Tokyo for the 16-day Olympic Games, which were delayed a year. They'll run from July 23 through Aug. 8, with competition for medals in sports that include baseball, softball, tennis, cycling, gymnastics, sailing, volleyball, water polo, swimming and even skateboarding for the first time. (See video below.)

U.S. Olympian says: "I think it's about time that skateboarding is in the Olympics. I personally don’t see why it wasn't in there a long time ago. Kids and people skateboard all around the world and it's a very global sport." – Nyjah Huston, 26

Columnist says: "The tech took away the fun parts of school [in 2020], like recess and seeing friends, and just left the academic parts." – Geoffrey Fowler, Washington Post technology writer

Dr. Anthony Fauci says: "Some people will be reluctant to shake hands [this year]. Some people will be washing hands a whole lot more than they ever did, even when Covid-19 is no longer around."

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2021

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