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7 Stories You Should Have Paid More Attention To In 2014

King Felipe VI of Spain attends the Congress of Deputies for the proclamation as King of Spain to the Spanish Parliament on June 19.
Getty Images
King Felipe VI of Spain attends the Congress of Deputies for the proclamation as King of Spain to the Spanish Parliament on June 19.

As 2014 winds down, we want to learn about the stories that didn't make the headlines. It's hard to say what qualifies as an underreported story, but here are some suggestions from smart people we know.

1. Algorithms Are Shaping Our Stories:

"I think this really touches on the issue of data literacy— most people are unaware of the algorithms that are being used to shape our Internet experiences. Of course there's a good reason for this — Internet companies like Google and Facebook have a vested financial interest in keeping their algorithms secret. However, it's important for the public at large to understand that algorithmic curation happens all the time."

-- Rey Junco @ReyJunco, associate professor, Education and Human Computer Interaction, Iowa State University; faculty associate, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University

2. So, All The Animals Are Going Extinct And Stuff:

"41% of amphibians and 23% of mammals are in danger of extinction and we're on our way to losing 75% of all species in possibly less than 100 years. I don't even really like animals like that, but I'd like to be able to discuss how much I dislike them to my grandkids without having to explain what a frog was."

-- Alexis Wilkinson @OhGodItsAlexis, Harvard Lampoon editor, Harvard College '15

3. Self-Immolation Incident In Tokyo:

"Oh man, in a year rife with local protests and social justice populism, the big unheard for me was the anti-government protests in Japan that culminated in two separate 'video activists' who self-immolated (both in Tokyo — i.e., in a very media visible place), both in objection to PM Abe's systemic restructuring of the military and changes in security laws. Not only was this not covered internationally (at least not in any significant measure), info on the later self-immolation was embargoed by the Japanese government — a censorship story in itself. Generally, the world won't pay much attention to Japanese protest (news focuses on neat lines for rations after The 3/11 Earthquake, Julien Blanc or awkward relations with China), so civil disobedience there seems doubly newsworthy to me."

PS: Asahi news finally *mentioned* the early November immolation in their English edition a month later in a small online bit.

-- Anne Ishii @ill_iterate, editor of "They're All So Beautiful" (digital platform for Seeking Asian Female/PBS)

4. Hong Kong's Teen Protester:

"Many of us grew up watching the Tiananmen Square protests unfold on TV, both inspired by the people's courageous stand for liberty and horrified by the Chinese government's brutal crackdown. That made this year's Hong Kong protests that much more poignant. While news consumers understood that the protesters were battling the democracy-shredding dictates of Chinese rule, I don't think many Americans understood that teenagers sparked the movement. When Joshua Wong was just 15 years old, he derailed state efforts to pump Chinese government 'patriotic education' classes into his school. When he was 17, he became a leader of hundreds of thousands of protesters flooding the streets of Hong Kong. He and other youths, such as college-student leader Lester Shum, kept the powerful ruling elite in Beijing up at night, and they're not done yet."

-- Bridget Johnson @Bridget_PJM, Washington editor at PJ Media

5. The Monarchic Transition In Spain:

"Contrary to popular belief, the King of Spain has real constitutional powers, so it is politically transcendent. The transition from King Juan Carlos' abdication to King Felipe's proclamation is the first 'normal' monarchic transition since the 19th century. No coup, revolution or dictator involved. It was also politically astute for the Royal Family — Juan Carlos became very unpopular to the point that people started to question the monarchy itself. Months after the ascent of Felipe, the monarchy has completely recovered its popular support and the new king is the most popular political leader in the country. Here's an interesting article on it. I'm so BORED by the fawning, never ending coverage of the British royals, this story, in contrast, has real political teeth, shows a modern monarchy with political relevance at work and how, ultimately, it is the guarantor of Spain's political stability. And let's remember that first European colony in North America was founded by Spain over 100 years before the Brits: St. Augustine, Florida."

-- Fernando Espuelas @EspuelasVox, entrepreneur, host and managing editor, The Fernando Espuelas Show

6. Jonathan Ferrell

"I think that the name of Jonathan Ferrell, the young man killed by police officer Randall Kerrick in Charlotte, N.C., is too often left off of the sad roll call of unarmed, African-American men shot by authorities. We will certainly hear more in 2015 as Kerrick goes on trial unlike in so many other cases of no indictment. This story also points to how a southern city is ahead of New York in this case, though protests continue and citizens are watching. Stay tuned."

-- Mary C. Curtis @MCurtisnc3, multimedia journalist in Charlotte, N.C.

7. Remembering Actor James Shigeta

"As far as notable individuals who left us this year, I still think the passing of James Shigeta deserved more note. He was a pioneering figure in Hollywood, as the first — and arguably, still the only — Asian American male to break through as a legit leading man in the Hollywood studio system. He starred as Detective Joe Kojaku in the bleak film noir "The Crimson Kimono," where he was featured in the first interracial kiss between an Asian man and a white woman. He played the dashing, singing-and-dancing romantic protagonist, Wang Ta, in the film version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Flower Drum Song." After that, his roles would become smaller, but never less memorable. And never less than iconic."

-- Jeff Yang @originalspin, columnist for the Wall Street Journal Online and frequent NPR contributor

What stories do you think the media missed? Share yours using #2014Stories on Twitter and Facebook.

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