TIME Magainze’s Person of the Year award is a dubious honour. It does not necessarily mean said honouree did a good job or is someone that should be rewarded as such — although a certain American President seems convinced that it is — but represents one’s impact on the world in the prior twelve months. For 2018, a year without end, there were many potential ‘winners’ to be crowned: The shortlist included Donald Trump, Meghan Markle, Vladimir Putin, Christine Blasey Ford, Ryan Coogler, and families separated at the border.
This year, TIME chose a group of journalists whose work saw them imprisoned or killed: Jamal Khashoggi, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and the Capital Gazette of Annapolis. TIME calls their choice a representation of ‘The Guardians and the War of Truth’, which feels apt in a never-ending cycle of ‘fake news’, propaganda, and an administration whose lies are ceaseless.
With @TIME's 2018 'Person of Year', the magazine is spotlighting a handful of journalists who have one thing in common:— Breaking News (@BreakingNews) December 11, 2018
They were targeted for their work. https://t.co/vUd1kisKZh pic.twitter.com/kfYukmO1Is
The four covers are striking: Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist murdered for his criticism of the Saudi crown prince; Maria Ressa, a news editor of the Rappler from the Philippines whose critical coverage of the President’s violent policies saw her charged with online libel and face questionable charges of tax evasion; Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were arrested in Myanmar while investigating the massacre of Rohingya Muslims (their wives hold photographs of them on the cover); and the staff of the Capital Gazette, a paper targeted by a gunman who killed five members of staff in their newsroom.
TIME’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal explained the choice:
It has long been the first move in the authoritarian playbook: controlling the flow of information and debate that is freedom’s lifeblood. And in 2018, the playbook worked. 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. 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.
You can read the full piece here.
Donald Trump was declared first runner-up, while second runner-up, if only for the sheer irony, was Robert Mueller.