TIME Person of the Year was revealed this morning on the TODAY Show, one day after the magazine’s editors announced the 10 finalists. TIME gave the annual honor to a group of journalists that were jailed, killed or targeted for their work this year: one newspaper and four media members led by Saudi Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi entered the Istanbul consulate on October 2 and was brutally dismembered and killed with the alleged knowledge of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Yesterday, Khashoggi’s last words were revealed: “I can’t breathe.”
“This is the first time we’ve ever chosen someone who’s no longer alive as Person of the Year, but it’s also very rare that a person’s influence grows so immensely in death,” Edward Felsenthal, TIME’s Editor-in-Chief, said on the TODAY show of Khashoggi specifically. “His murder has prompted a global reassessment of the Saudi Crown Prince, and a really long overdue look at the devastating war in Yemen.”
Collectively, TIME Person of the Year is identified as “The Guardians and the War On Truth.” And, along with Khashoggi, are Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are currently serving a seven-year sentence for exposing a massacre of 10 Muslim men and obtaining “confidential documents.” In doing so, they were said to have violated Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act.
Maria Ressa of Philippine news site Rappler, which has been highly critical of president Rodrigo Duterte, could face 10 years in prison for five counts of tax fraud, something that Ressa says is an attempt to “harass and intimidate” her and the site, according to The Guardian. Ressa is another member of TIME Person of the Year 2018.
The Capital Gazette, a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, is also being honored by TIME. The paper faced a deadly shooting back in June that left five people dead. The gunman, Jarrod Ramos, had a longstanding grudge against the Capital Gazette.
Felsenthal pointed out in a written statement that these “Guardians” are “representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world – as of Dec. 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018 – who risk all to tell the story of our time.”
TIME’s “Guardians” are recognized for embarking on “the imperfect but essential quest for facts that are central to civil discourse, for speaking up and for speaking out.”
“As we looked at the choices, it became clear that the manipulation and abuse of truth is really the common thread in so many of this year’s major stories from Russia to Riyadh to Silicon Valley,” Felsenthal said on the TODAY Show. “And so we chose to highlight four individuals and one group who have taken great risks in pursuit of greater truths.”
Second and third picks for TIME Person of the Year went to President Donald Trump and Robert Mueller respectively.
Read the full TIME Person of the Year cover story on Time.com.
TIME Person of the Year 2018: Cover
The four covers for TIME Person of the Year feature Ressa, Khashoggi, the Gazette staff and the wives of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.
Twitter reacts to TIME Person of the Year
“This makes me very happy and very sad at the same time,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Brilliant. I hope every aspiring journalist in areas of conflict and oppression sees these heroes and picks up the torch of freedom,” another commented.
A third wrote, “I never knew them but the world is diminished without them.”
Some argued that TIME editors, members of the media, choosing other members of the media as Person of the Year is “embarrassing” or unjustified. But, as political columnist Karen Tumulty kindly reminded the public, TIME Person of the Year is awarded to those who have the biggest influence on the news cycle and the world.
A little reminder here for those who still care: @time person of the year is not an honor or award. It is meant to recognize person who — for better or worse — most affected the world this year.
— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) December 11, 2018
And, that being said, supportive sentiment circulated on Twitter:
— Nolan D. McCaskill (@NolanDMcCaskill) December 11, 2018
— Thomas Roberts (@ThomasARoberts) December 11, 2018
This feature could easily be a publicity stunt or an empty honorific. But @TIME‘s choice is so meaningful, so moving, elevating voices of truth, helping them rise above the forces of corruption, violence, and chaos. https://t.co/zYdLlj7Zwn
— jodikantor (@jodikantor) December 11, 2018
As of now, Trump has not made an official statement about TIME Person of the Year. But, it’s important to note that just this morning he posted the following:
Fake News has it purposely wrong. Many, over ten, are vying for and wanting the White House Chief of Staff position. Why wouldn’t someone want one of the truly great and meaningful jobs in Washington. Please report news correctly. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018