It only takes seconds nowadays for any world event to be Tweeted, Snapchatted, or Periscoped. From there, it filters to wire services and mainstream news outlets to be reported on, 24/7 cable TV or appear as an alert in your inbox. Then it falls to online blogging outlets to churn out a think piece here, a hot take there, dissecting the story until there’s nothing left but .gif-laden listicles.
We’re so used to this tidal wave of media noise that sometimes it’s impossible to fully grasp the impact of a story without a visual aid. You could easily skip past a headline about California’s recurrent wildfires, but it’s another thing to actually see an all-encompassing inferno, silhouetting the lone firefighter fruitlessly battling the blaze. The pollution problem in China may seem like the pet cause of a Greenpeace hippie until you see the hordes of people struggling through grey smog in a scene that looks more like Silent Hill than Shanghai.
These images that accompany many of our stories – taken by brave photojournalists around the world and provided to us by Reuters – are often just as important as the stories themselves, and that’s why we’ve assembled a few of our favorite and most iconic photographs from the past year. Some relate to breaking news events, others just show people going about their daily lives, but all of them tell a story of their own.