This has been a historic year. For the Bulletin, too, 2008 was a milestone year as we reinvented ourselves as a true multimedia publication. In addition to publishing our printed AARP Bulletin, we introduced AARP Bulletin Today as the go-to site for 50+ news.
Since our formal launch in May, we’ve published thousands of stories and photographs, hundreds of special story and information packages, and dozens of video portraits of the lives, challenges and accomplishments of older Americans. And every day we’ve presented a new cartoon, new jokes, new puzzles and a record of historic events for that date.
Here are the editors’ choices for the Top 10 Bulletin Today attractions of 2008.
1. DECISION 2008
This was our most ambitious effort. This site gives you a glimpse of the breadth and depth of our coverage—reporters, photographers, researchers, designers, editors and producers combined talents to give visitors a prize-winning look at the 2008 presidential campaign. We updated the site each week during the primaries and the summer campaign—including AARP interviews with both candidates. We accelerated our coverage with updates each day during the conventions and hourly on Election Night.
2. SOCIAL SECURITY COLA HIKE
With 50 million Social Security recipients, there’s big interest in any news affecting it. Our exclusive story anticipating a record increase in the cost-of-living adjustment and the subsequent story confirming it were the most popular stories we published all year.
3. SURVIVING THE BEAR MARKET
We published daily stories and news-pegged advice for investors, retirees, near-retirees and households facing crucial decisions. Our regular columnist Martha M. Hamilton highlighted our effort.
4. ALZHEIMER’S AT THE BRINK
Researchers on the verge of a breakthrough in treating this debilitating disease shared their findings first with Bulletin Today. We produced a series of exclusive reports during the annual Alzheimer’s Association meeting last summer, using it to bolster our already robust coverage of Alzheimer’s disease.
5. WHAT I REALLY KNOW
We have discovered a rich source of wonderful and inspiring writers: you! In an expansion of our regular Bulletin feature, we invited readers to share their experiences and lessons. They wrote about bathing suits, writing letters, forgiveness, autumn leaves and much more. Take a look.
6. FORECLOSURE WITH A TWIST
Foreclosures affect families, neighborhoods and communities, impacting homeowners and renters, landlords and children. When Tom Dart, sheriff of Cook County, Ill., realized that, he did something about it.
7. ASK MS. MEDICARE
Patricia Barry, our health policy reporter and expert, answers hundreds of questions about Medicare—the program, the benefits and how to manage your benefits.
8. UNEQUAL BENEFITS
We displayed our reporting and technical skill with a report comparing consumer costs for those enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans around the country. The cost varies widely from county to county. See for yourself in the story and in the interactive, county-by-county map of the United States.
9. MARATHON WOMAN
In 1987 Margaret Hagerty decided to quit smoking and start running. Now 85, Hagerty holds a record for running marathons on all seven continents.
10. ECONOMIC COLLAPSE
We developed a comprehensive report on the ongoing collapse of the global economy. It included tips, news flashes and interviews with experts, including Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and writer Michael Lewis.
THE FALLOW REPORT
AARP books editor Allan Fallow has pioneered a new type of news report for Bulletin Today: man-in-the-street interviews that mix timely events, Fallow’s knowledge and wit, and the wisdom of the people he interviews. Here’s one of his reports, on what the nation expects of President-elect Barack Obama.
SQUEEZED AT THE PUMP
As gas prices were rising, we prepared a comprehensive guide to ease the pressure. We’ve continued to update that report even as prices have fallen. Today we urge viewers to use the information and advice to prepare for the next price spike. You know it’s coming.
Once Congress and the president had agreed on an economic stimulus program last spring, we helped members apply for the funds. These stories generated enormous interest, including this story, “Still Waiting for Stimulus Cash? Money Could Be Delayed.”
CONGRESS STOPS MEDICARE CUTS
With a dramatic assist from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., Congress eventually overrode President Bush’s veto of a bill that would expand Medicare, trim the subsidies of Medicare Advantage private plans and block a projected pay cut for doctors participating in the Medicare program.
U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY'S PRIORITY
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson called for public support for the summer economic bailout plan during a special meeting with the AARP board. He also said he was skeptical that the economy needed another stimulus.
MEET AUTHOR ANDREW BLECHMAN
“Are Retirees Breaking Their Social Contract?” Read an interview with Andrew D. Blechman, author of Leisureville, and an excerpt from the book.
MEET AUTHOR JEANNE SAFER
“Your Parent Just Died? Your Life May Get Better.” Check out an interview with Jeanne Safer, author of the best-selling book Death Benefits.
PICK THE CAMPAIGN WINNER
American University Prof. Allan J. Lichtman wrote a special essay for the Bulletin, “The Keys to the White House.” We then created a 13-point checklist that allowed visitors to determine months ahead who would win the November election. Hint: They would have been right.
SHOULD YOU GET A FLU SHOT? WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
It’s the question everyone asks each winter, yet it’s critically important, since as many as 36,000 deaths are attributed to the flu each year.
SOCIAL SECURITY: IT'S BETTER IF YOU WAIT
You’re eligible for Social Security at age 62, but the benefits are higher if you wait to enroll. There’s a strategy for making the decision, and veteran personal finance writer Stan Hinden lays out the options.
CASH FLOW CONTROL: TEN EASY STEPS TO HELP YOU MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR MONEY
With frozen salaries, no bonuses and job angst, there’s never been a more important time for carefully managing the cash you have. Here are 10 easy-to-understand tips.
OVER 50 AND LOOKING FOR A JOB? THE WEB IS A START
Retirees returning to the work force and people worried about their jobs have a new friend: the Internet, with its many job-hunt tools and websites full of information and help.
SEASON’S GREETINGS: ROLLING DOG RANCH
Alayne Marker and Steve Smith left their home and jobs in Seattle and opened their Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Ovando, Mont. In the beauty of Big Sky Country, they care for and shelter disabled dogs, horses and cats.
Photos/illustrations (from top): 2. Dreamstime; 4. Ben Baker/Redux; 7. Dreamstime; 9. Lewis Whyld/PA/AP photos; Squeezed at the Pump: Dreamstime; The Stimulus: iStockphoto; Flu: iStockphoto