THE NEWS cycle waits for nobody. Churning out an endless barrage of stories that serve to inspire hope and those that feel like a targeted airstrike on the heart, simply keeping up with it can feel like an Olympic sport. Compounding the issue is the fact our news is no longer confined to a newspaper we pore over while scoffing down our breakfast. It’s there as soon as we wake up, in the glare of our phone screens as we switch from one website to social media to a podcast before being directed to a YouTube video.
To look back on 2023 is to see the year has been filled with news stories that captured our hearts. From those that proved devastating and left us reeling in collective agony, to those that spoke to the human potential and our capacity to love—2023 has it all. From the sporting arena to European coastlines and the box office, here are the wildest news stories to break in 2023 (so far).
The year of the celebrity divorce
If Valentine’s Day is the day of love, then 2023 is the year of the Great Celebrity Divorce. As more of Hollywood’s biggest stars announced their separation via joint statements posted to Instagram, the world felt a collective heartache with some of us even questioning, is divorce contagious? From Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner to Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello, more and more couples sought to split in an effort to focus on their individual pursuits.
But perhaps none hurt quite as much as the announcement that came from our very own Aussie icon, Hugh Jackman. After twenty-seven years together, Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee announced they were amicably ending their marriage. In a statement shared with PEOPLE, they explained: “We have been blessed to share almost three decades together as husband and wife in a wonderful, loving marriage. Our journey now is shifting, and we have decided to separate to pursue our individual growth.” Cue the tears from fans around the world.
The Taylor Swift x NFL crossover we never expected
What with a global stadium tour and recent album release, you’d think Taylor Swift wouldn’t have time to date, let alone brush her hair. And yet, when cameras zoned in on the flawless complexion of Swift in the crowd at a Kansas City Chief’s game, the Internet went wild. Now in a relationship with Chief’s tight end, Travis Kelce, Swift’s attendance has been a boost not just for Kelce’s performance—but sport at large.
Swift’s attendance at Chiefs games has been astronomical for NFL ratings. The NFL has broken national television records with an average of 27 million viewers coming to NBC and Peacock just for a glimpse of that red lipstick in the stands, with female viewership spiking by more than 35 per cent. According to reports by Nielsen, 53 per cent more teenage girls watched the Sunday night football than last season. Call it the Taylor effect, but it seems anywhere she goes, a spotlight follows with her.
Victoria cancels the Commonwealth Games
The sporting community here in Australia was dealt a massive blow when the Victorian government announced it would scrap the 2026 Commonwealth Games. Set to be held in regional Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews made the decision that Victoria would withdraw from its hosting duties, citing the exponential cost. The games would have seen the region spend $6 billion, while estimates suggest hosting would contribute $3 billion to the economy.
The decision left athletes and sporting fans reeling, with many questioning what such a decision would mean for the future of the Commonwealth Games. Though it might not hold the allure of the Olympics, for our Australian athletes it’s a necessary stepping stone, one that primes them for competition on a world stage.
Kelvin Kiptum shatters marathon world record
Ever since Eliud Kipchoge became the first athlete to break two hours in a marathon with a time of 1:59.40 for Nike’s Breaking Two challenge in 2019, the world has waited for another to step up to the plate. For Kipchoge though, the challenge was never recognised as the official marathon world record as it wasn’t raced in competition, and he had the benefit of rotating pacemakers. Still, the question remained: if one man could do it, could another in competitive circumstances?
Kelvin Kiptum might not have broken two hours, but he did shatter the current marathon world record with an incredible run in Chicago this October. With a time of 2:0.35, the 23-year-old took 34 seconds off Kipchoge’s best time. More impressive than the time itself were Kiptum’s splits, averaging a pace of 2:51 minutes per kilometre.
It’s a moment that will live on in sporting history, proving that no-one is limited, and we are capable of far more than we realise. As Kiptum and Kipchoge before him prove, the two-hour barrier in the marathon is there to be broken. And theirs is an example that one day, it will be done.
Barbenheimer rocks the box office
If people were questioning the survival of the cinema in a post-pandemic world, the phenomenon of ‘Barbenheimer’ served to restore all faith. You couldn’t get two films on complete opposite sides of the spectrum, yet when their release date overlapped, droves of people turned out to watch.
Combined, Warner Bros’ Barbie and Universal’s Oppenheimer produced more than $1.1 billion in global ticket sales. The event itself was one bigger than ticket sales and box office rankings, however. It was a cultural event that will go down as one of the wildest moments in film history, one that saw film-goers oscillate between the comedic charm of Barbie and the gut-wrenching dread induced by Oppenheimer.
Europe swelters under heatwaves
Where it used to be the case that the June-July period would induce envy as you perused the Instagram feed, posts emerging from Europe at this time were only horrifying. Extreme heat caused tourists and residents in parts of Europe to swelter, with many experiencing adverse health issues as a result of the soaring temperatures.
The Italian island of Sardinia saw temperatures climb to 47 degrees Celsius, while a red alert was placed on all major Italian cities. The intense heat also led to deadly wildfires, with more than 20,000 people having to be evacuated from the Greek island of Rhodes. Wildfires also spread to Portugal and Croatia, and across the Mediterranean.
All of this proved to be a horrifying glimpse into the reality of a world in the grips of a climate crisis. With warming temperatures around the world, scientists are now seeing a rise in potentially fatal conditions like heat stroke and heart failure. According to a paper published in Nature Medicine, researchers calculated that more than 61,000 deaths in Europe could be attributed to the intense heatwaves of the summer of 2022.
Upset for the Wallabies at the Rugby World Cup
All eyes were on the Wallabies when they arrived in Paris for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. But when the team exited the competition at the end of the pool stage, Australians were left speechless. The result marked the first time the Wallabies had failed to advance to the quarterfinals at the tournament. Having won only two of nine Tests in 2023 under coach Eddie Jones, the shock upset became the talking point of many a press interview. Now, it’s been announced that the team’s performance will go under an external review with Rugby Australia as they seek to answer what led to such a disastrous World Cup campaign.
Suspected mushroom murder
It’s not everyday that a beef wellington will capture global attention, but when the meal left three people dead, the world couldn’t help but pay attention. It soon emerged that Erin Patterson was suspected of murder, after she cooked the dish and hosted the lunch.
According to police, Patterson plotted to poison her former family members—two of whom were the parents of her former husband, Simon Patterson. Reports revealed that the three people who died all had symptoms consistent with eating death cap mushrooms, which are responsible for 90 per cent of mushroom-related deaths. Even just a single bite can be deadly.
Patterson long maintained her innocence but has since been charged with murdering Gail and Don Patterson, both 70, and Gail’s sister, Heather Wilkinson, 66. She is also charged with five counts of attempted murder, four of which relate to Simon Patterson.
Football’s #MeToo moment
The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup may not have resulted in victory for the Matildas, but it spoke to the power of sport to unite the world. Smashing national television ratings and attendance at sporting stadiums, we couldn’t get enough of the action on the field. Sadly, the brilliance of the event was undermined with Spain’s victory, after which the Spanish football federation boss Luis Rubiales grabbed player Jenni Hermoso and kissed her on the lips.
The kiss was one felt around the world; a shared outrage and stomach-churning sadness that Hermoso’s moment of celebration could be stolen from her. In a powerful statement, Hermoso came forward after the incident to express that she was the “victim of aggression” and in “no moment” consented to the kiss.
In what has now been hailed as Spain’s #MeToo movement in football, Rubiales was forced to resign and is now the subject of a restraining order after Hermoso filed a complaint for alleged sexual assault and coercion. The Spanish coach, Jorge Vilda, has also been sacked.
‘Crypto King’ faces 110 years in prison
If you’re not familiar with Sam Bankman-Fried, know that he was once the richest person in the world under the age of 30. He lived in a penthouse in the Bahamas, was wined and dined by famous politicians, and his cryptocurrency business was worth $32 billion—at least on paper.
But when crypto’s biggest star came crashing down to reality after his business went plummeting, the world could only sit back and watch it unfold as yet another cautionary tale of greed. One year after Bankman-Fried’s FTX filed for bankruptcy, the ‘Crypto King’ sat before a jury in which prosecutors made the case he stole $12.4 billion from the exchange’s customers to serve his own purposes.
Now, Bankman-Fried has been found guilty of defrauding customers in what many are calling the biggest financial frauds on record. He now faces 110 years in prison.