10 Big Stories Of 2018 For Metro Atlanta

David Goldman / Associated Press

It’s time to look back at the top stories of 2018.  WABE was busy covering elections, Amazon HQ2 deals, the Gulch and more in Atlanta and around Georgia.

Some of our reporters sat down to talk about our 10 biggest stories of the year:

Atlanta Gets Hacked

In 2018, cybercriminals held the city of Atlanta hostage virtually, with a ransomware attack, shortly after Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms took office.

Around 5 p.m. on the morning of March 22, the city officials said it got reports of computer outages, and said that’s when officials first discovered hackers were demanding a ransom.

WABE business and technology reporter Tasnim Shamma sits down with WABE’s Jim Burress to talk about the company’s decision not to come to Atlanta.

Cyberattack At City Hall

HQ2 Falls Through

One of the biggest stories of 2018 was about something that did not work out for Atlanta.

The online shopping giant Amazon announced metro Atlanta would not be home to its second headquarters (“HQ2”). Instead, it picked Queens, NY and Arlington, VA.That was after more than a year of sweet-talking and offering $2 billion worth of tax incentives.

WABE business and technology reporter Tasnim Shamma sits down with WABE’s Sam Whitehead to talk about the company’s decision not to come to Atlanta.

No HQ2 For Atlanta

New Projects For MARTA

In 2018 came a decision that determined the future of Atlanta’s transit agency. MARTA’s board voted on how it will spend $2.7 billion from new sales tax revenue to expand around the city.

As WABE reporter Stephannie Stokes tells Jim Burress, the process of picking the new transit projects got a little contentious.

MARTA Picks Projects

Atlanta United Wins A Cup

Atlanta United broke a decades-old curse for the city this year, by winning the Major League Soccer Cup. The last time the city won a national sports championship was in 1995.

It was a dramatic moment in the fast rise of Atlanta United, in just two years of existence.

WABE reporter Emma Hurt talked with Jim Burress about the team.

Atlanta United Champs

Gulch Deal Passes

The Gulch development deal took up a lot of airwaves and a lot of City Council’s time this year.

The plan to redevelop the empty piece of land downtown drew a lot of criticism for the up to $2 billion in tax incentives, but it narrowly passed the Council in November.

Construction still hasn’t started yet, as critics have sued over the validity of the financing.

WABE reporter Emma Hurt sat down with Sam Whitehead to talk about the Gulch.

Gulch Deal OK’d

Midterms Electrify Georgia

Georgia’s midterm elections seemed to last the entirety of 2018. Fierce, lengthy primaries in the Republican and Democratic parties were followed by competitive general elections.

Republicans again won all statewide offices, but Democrats had some victories in Atlanta’s suburbs.

As WABE political reporter Johnny Kauffman tells Jim Burress, that made the state look more competitive than in years past.

Georgia Votes

Problems At The Polls

Georgia’s voting machines, as well as the rules surrounding who gets to cast a ballot in the state, claimed a lot of coverage in 2018.

As WABE political reporter Johnny Kauffman tells Sam Whitehead, the election might be settled, but issues surrounding the ballot box are anything but.

Georgia’s Voting Issues

Hurricane Michael’s Devastation

Unlike Hurricane Irma in 2017, Atlantans probably won’t remember Hurricane Michael as the culprit for going days without electricity.

But in the Florida Panhandle and south Georgia, Michael was devastating. Dozens of people were killed. And farmers will continue to count losses for years to come.

As WABE’s Molly Samuel tells Jim Burress, the devastation to Georgia tallied billions of dollars.

Michael Hits Hard

Atlanta Tries Bail Reform

As a general concept, bail is supposed to be about making sure people come back to court.

But for minor crimes, such as traffic violations, those arrested in Atlanta were finding themselves on the hook for hundreds of dollars just to get out from behind bars while awaiting a hearing. If they couldn’t arrange payment, they’d sit in jail for days or weeks or longer.

As WABE’s Lisa Hagen tells Sam Whitehead, 2018 was the year Atlanta passed a measure to try to fix that.

Taking On Bail

Google Fiber’s Broken Promise

More than three years after Google Fiber announced Atlanta would be the third city to get its super-fast and relatively low-cost Internet service, few homes had been connected.

A year-long investigation (in partnership with Atlanta Magazine) by WABE’s Jim Burress uncovered how deeply Google Fiber’s unmet promises went—and why the company failed to deliver.

As WABE News looks back to the biggest stories of 2018, Burress and Sam Whitehead revisit “The Big Disconnect: Google Fiber’s Unmet Promise In Atlanta.”

What Happened To Fiber?