Time magazine’s Person of the Year is “The Guardians” and the “War on Truth, marking the first time that someone who is no longer alive was selected.
Jamal Khashoggi, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, plus the Capital Gazette are depicted on four different versions of the prestigious cover. The magazine asks us to remember that the Person of the Year doesn’t always mean an honor, but is representative of the influence a person, group or idea had within the last year, for better or worse.
Time’s editor-in chief Edward Felsenthal:
Today, democracy around the world faces its biggest crisis in decades, its foundations undermined by invective from on high and toxins from below, by new technologies that power ancient impulses, by a poisonous cocktail of strongmen and weakening institutions.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was brutally murdered at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. Ressa is the editor of a Philippine news website often praised for criticizing the local government, Lone and Soe Oo were arrested while attempting to investigate the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, and the Capital Gazette lost five staff members when a man with a gun burst into their newsroom.
From Russia to Riyadh to Silicon Valley, manipulation and abuse of truth is the common thread in so many of this year’s major headlines, an insidious and growing threat to freedom. In its highest forms, influence, the measure that has for nine decades been the focus Person of the Year derives from courage. Time recognizes our journalists and one news organization who have paid a terrible price to seize the challenge of this moment, as they are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world.
The magazine noted that as of yesterday, December 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018.
The tradition of selecting a “Man of the Year” began in 1927, with Time editors contemplating the news makers of the years. The idea was also an attempt to remedy the editorial embarrassment earlier that year of not having aviator Charles Lindbergh on its cover following his historic trans-Atlantic flight. By the end of the year, it was decided that a cover story featuring Lindbergh as the Man of the Year would serve both purposes.
In 1999, the title was changed to Person of the Year. “American Women” were recognized as a group in 1975. Other groups included “Hungarian Freedom Fighters” (1956), “U.S. Scientists” (1960), “The Inheritors” (1966), “The Middle Americans” (1969), “The American Soldier” (2003), “You” (2006), “The Protester” (2011) and “Ebola Fighters” (2014). Two non-humans have been named: ” The Computer” (1982) ” The Endangered Earth” (1988).
Despite the Time‘s frequent statements to the contrary, the designation is often regarded as an honor, and it is thought as an award or prize, simply based on many previous selections of admirable people. Yet, the magazine points out that controversial figures such as Adolf Hitler (1938), Joseph Stalin (1939 and 1942), Nikita Khrushchev (1957) and Ayatollah Khomeini (1979) have been named for their impacts.
Queens gangster Donald John Trump has craved the title so badly that he has a mock-up of the cover with his likeness displayed at his exclusive club, Mar-A-Lago. Dated March 1, 2009, making it nine months late, copies have been seen hanging prominently in at least four of Trump’s golf resorts, next to other framed magazine pages celebrating himself. He must be so disappointed that the title went to journalists!