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Top 25 News Photos of 2020 – The Atlantic

As we approach the end of a year unlike any other in recent memory, here is a look back at some of the major news events and moments of 2020. The coronavirus pandemic took center stage worldwide, disrupting societies, sickening tens of millions, and killing more than 1.5 million people. In June, widespread protests against racial injustice and police brutality erupted after the Minneapolis police killed George Floyd. In the U.S., political and cultural clashes took place in the streets, on the airwaves, and across social media during a tumultuous presidential-election year. California suffered one of its worst wildfire seasons in modern history, and so much more. Here, we present the top 25 news photos of 2020. Be sure to check back throughout the week for more comprehensive stories, presented as “2020: The Year in Photos, Parts 1-3.”
Dr. Joseph Varon hugs and comforts a patient in the COVID-19 intensive-care unit during Thanksgiving at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, on November 26, 2020. In the past year, more than 67 million people worldwide have been infected by the new coronavirus, and more than 1.5 million of them have died, taking unimaginable tolls on health-care workers, families, and so many more.
On January 4, 2020, Nancy Allen and Brian Allen stood outside their home as high winds pushed smoke and ash from the Currowan Fire toward Nowra, New South Wales, Australia. Tracey Nearmy, a Reuters photographer, said at the time, “Covering Australia’s sparsely populated regions is difficult. And when the bushfires started this summer, getting there was tricky. After a day of traveling, I found myself in smoky red haze face-to-face with Nancy Allen in Nowra. Nancy and her husband Brian were trying to defend their home with a garden hose. The fire bearing down on their town was so intense, it was creating its own pyrocumulonimbus storm, and the police had evacuated the area hours earlier. Yet, Nancy and Brian stayed in the swirling smoke and ash, anxiously wetting down the front of their house. Mistaking me for an emergency crew, Nancy rushed over to ask me what they should do. Given that the suburb had already been evacuated, I told them to follow the advice to go to the closest evacuation center. Nancy’s expression in this photograph summed up the shock and disbelief many Australians felt at the ferocity and enormity of these fires.”
In Wuhan, China, a medical staff member riding on a personal transporter sprays disinfectant in a residential area on March 11, 2020.
San Francisco’s California Street, usually filled with cable cars, is seen empty on March 18, 2020. San Francisco, along with seven other Bay Area counties, had ordered residents to shelter in place in an effort to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
In Denver, Colorado, health-care workers stand in the street in counterprotest to hundreds of people who gathered at the state capitol to demand that a stay-at-home order be lifted, on April 19, 2020.
Yasmine Protho, a graduating senior, wears a photo of herself on her protective mask amid the coronavirus pandemic. She graduated with only nine other classmates, at a time with limited family attending, from Chattahoochee County High School on May 15, 2020, in Cusseta, Georgia.
Protesters set a shop on fire on May 28, 2020, during the third day of protests over the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Floyd had died in police custody three days earlier, after the police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. The killing triggered protests that grew into a worldwide movement against police brutality and systemic racism. Chauvin, who has been charged with second-degree unintentional murder, and the three other officers involved, who have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, will be tried in March 2021.
Thousands of people demonstrate in Cologne, Germany, on June 6, 2020, to protest against racism and the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis.
A statue of former vice president and slavery advocate, John C. Calhoun, is removed from the monument in his honor in Marion Square in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 24, 2020. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, dozens of statues and monuments associated with a racist past were torn down, defaced, or scheduled for removal.
Protesters, one holding up a portrait of George Floyd, sit together on Fifth Avenue in solidarity during a march for police reform on June 10, 2020, in New York City.
Patricia McCloskey and her husband Mark McCloskey draw their firearms on protesters as they enter their neighborhood during a protest against St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 28, 2020. Lawrence Bryant, a Reuters photographer, said, “That Sunday evening, several hundred Black and white protesters walked through an open gate into the community where the couple—Mark McCloskey and his wife Patricia McCloskey—lived. They were met by Mark McCloskey holding what looked like an automatic rifle and shouting ‘Get out!’ several times at the crowd. I was not overly worried, even when he appeared to cock his weapon. But then Patricia McCloskey appeared from the front of the house holding a handgun. She had her finger on the trigger and looked nervous and I became a little bit more worried, as there were kids out there, and she was sporadically pointing the gun at random people. I was just trying to make frames, stay safe, dodge the barrel of the gun, and stay out of sight and out of line. I’m a big, Black man and I always have to pay attention to that anyway. I’m pleased with the pictures I took of the scene. I may have liked a longer lens to be able to zoom in on the couple, but the fact that I had only one camera meant I captured not just the McCloskeys, but also the protesters around them. A lot of the photos out there focus on the couple holding the guns, but to me that’s not telling the whole story. I wanted to show there were people protesting peacefully and the couple came to engage them.”
A horse-drawn carriage bearing the body of civil-rights icon and former U.S. representative, John Lewis, crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge on July 26, 2020 in Selma, Alabama. On the second of six days of ceremonies, Lewis’s funeral procession continued to follow the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail on its way to the State Capitol. On March 7, 1965, Lewis and other civil-rights leaders were attacked by Alabama State Police while marching across this bridge in support of voting rights for African Americans. The day would come to be known as “Bloody Sunday.”
A picture shows the scene of an explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020. The enormous blast that devastated much of Beirut’s port area was caused by a fire in a warehouse that had been storing explosive materials, reportedly including 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate. More than 200 deaths and over 6,000 injuries were attributed to the explosion.
Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president, Joe Biden, and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, arrive to speak at a news conference at Alexis du Pont High School in Wilmington, Delaware, on August 12, 2020.
Anurak Jeantawanich, a protester, pushes against police officers during an anti-government demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand, on October 16, 2020. “I could sense danger coming,” Jeantawanich said. “I looked each of them in the eye and told them not to come any closer, that there were a lot of young students and girls here.” Through most of the year, protests have been staged against the military-backed government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
A child in a Supergirl costume pays respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building on September 23, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Ginsburg died of cancer at the age of 87 on September 18.
This picture, taken in Jakarta, Indonesia, on September 16, 2020, shows a graveyard for victims of COVID-19 at the Pondok Ranggon Cemetery.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Cecil Airport in Jacksonville, Florida, on September 24, 2020. Tom Brenner, a Reuters photographer, said: “We descended from Air Force One onto the hot, humid tarmac in Jacksonville. It was already our third campaign stop of the day. Rally attendees, mostly without protective masks, were shouting at anyone holding a camera to ‘treat Trump fairly’ and to ‘stop lying.’ As each Trump rally typically has the same layout of a large audience viewing area encircling an elevated podium, I knew I had to make different images to keep our coverage varied. I zoomed in with my telephoto lens to compose the giant swaying American flag around the president, then behind his open mouth as he passionately addressed the thousands of supporters listening below. I took several dozen photographs, attempting to frame the president with the flag in order to visualize his strong views on the coronavirus, the economy, and the United States as a whole. It wasn’t until I saw the images on my laptop that I understood that my plan had been successful that day.”
A sign warning people about COVID-19 is surrounded by flames as the LNU Lightning Complex fires burn in Napa County, California, on August 18, 2020. This year, more than 9,000 fires burned across California, scorching nearly 4.4 million acres.
Dana Clark and her 18-month-old son Mason wait in line at City Hall as early voting begins for November’s presidential election in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 16, 2020. Clark said she donned this protective cover because she didn’t know how many people would be wearing masks in line, and her child doesn’t have a mask. She said she works as a teacher and wanted to take precautions for her students’ sakes.
In this image taken from video released by NASA, rocks are dispersed as the Osiris-Rex spacecraft attempts to take a sample of the surface of the asteroid, Bennu, about 200 million miles from Earth, on October 20, 2020. The sample was successfully taken and stored in a return capsule, which is due to arrive back on Earth in September 2023.
Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates as he rounds the bases. He hit a solo home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning in Game Six of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, on October 27, 2020.
Reina Mae Nasino, a detained Filipino activist, holds a flower during the burial of her three-month-old baby, River, who died while she was in jail, in Manila North Cemetery, Philippines, on October 16, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, a Reuters photographer, said: “The moment I saw Reina Mae Nasino step out at the burial site of her three-month-old baby, River, my eyes locked onto her hands. She was handcuffed, in a full personal protective suit, and surrounded by armed prison guards. Her relatives and lawyers repeatedly pleaded for her to be uncuffed—even for just a minute—to give her a chance to hold her baby for the last time, but the authorities refused. It was heartbreaking to witness Nasino sob silently in front of a tiny white coffin, caressing the top of it with her cuffed hands, as her sister played lullabies on a cellphone. This photograph of Nasino holding a white flower was taken during her last moments with her baby, as loved ones threw flowers into the grave before the tomb was covered in cement. It’s a simple image and doesn’t show any of the chaos I witnessed that day, but I think it demonstrates who Nasino was in that moment. Putting all the politics aside, she was just a mother mourning her child, in a universal feeling that anyone could sympathize with.”
Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for President Donald Trump, speaks to the media at a press conference held in the back parking lot of Four Seasons Total Landscaping on November 7, 2020, in Philadelphia. The press conference took place just minutes after news networks announced that Joe Biden had won the presidency over Trump, after it was projected that Biden had won the state of Pennsylvania.
A cab driver raises his fist as people celebrate media announcements that Joe Biden had won the 2020 U.S. presidential election in Union Square, Manhattan, on November 7, 2020.
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Millions of cubic meters of fallen ash now blanket much of the landscape near the eruption.
A snowstorm in Moscow, a vintage-car race in England, flooding in British Columbia, smoggy skies in India, big-wave surfing in Portugal, and much more
Images from the Pacific Northwest, hard-hit by heavy rains
Winners and runners-up from this year’s landscape-photo competition

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