It has become a tradition that at the end of every year, Time Magazine names its “Person of the year” and gives them a cover. This year’s “Person of the year” was several members of the news media with Jamal Khashoggi, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo and staff of the Capital Gazette getting the honors under the collective name called “The Guardians”
“The Guardians” were all members of the news media before they became victims in their pursuit of a story and the information in reporting the news. Named specifically were:
Jamal Khashoggi: general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel and editor for the Saudi Arabian newspaper Al Watan, Writer, and Author who expressed his views critical of Saubia Arabian Royalty and was murdered by Saudi agents in October.
Maria Ressa: Chief Executive Officer of the Rappler Philippines online news website and longtime CNN and Wall Street Journal reporter. Covered the violent Drug war and attributed up to 12,000 deaths under Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. The Duterte government then arrested her and Ressa faces 10 years in jail on charges of not filing her taxes.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo: Writers for Reuters who were charged by the county of Myanmar after reporting and writing the story of the deaths of ten minority Rohingya Muslims. The two were given seven years each in prison, while the actual killers (That were exposed thanks to Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo’s efforts) were only given ten.
The staff of The Capital Gazette: The group behind the publishing of The Capital Gazette out of Annapolis Maryland who continued on after five members of the staff were killed in mass shooting in their newsroom on June 28th.
In all, the Gaurdians being named “Person of the Year” is a statement of journalists finding out the truth and facing oppression in an attempt to silence what they know. In a rare move, the magazine will be offering four different covers spotlighting images of these people and the stories they tell of reporting in the face of such tyranny.
Time Magazine has named a Person/Man/Woman of the year since 1927. It highlights a major news story and a talking point that dominated news talk during the whole year. The first “Man of the Year” was Charles Lindbergh in 1927 after he famously flew his plane “Spirit of St. Louis” from New York to Paris.
The magazine has also named several groups of people as “Person of the year” including last year’s “Person of the year” being named as “The Silence Breakers” or those who were coming forward after surviving sexual abuse. In other years past they have also named “The Ebola Fighters” (2014), “The Protester” (2011), “The Good Samaritans” (2005), “The Peacemakers” (1993) and host of others since the original Lindbergh cover in 1927. The magazine even named “You” and the “Man of the year” in 2006.
On a personal note, as someone who makes their living writing these stories to you, it brings a sense of pride in what those people have done. Even if it isn’t the same level as the stories of the reporters and writers that Time is honoring with this cover. The freedom of the Press, no matter where it is in the world, will always survive. No government or oppressor can put the stop on what happens and the truth will always be there and people like them will be the ones to tell it.
More power to those who sacrificed so much to tell their stories to the world and more power to Time Magazine for telling the stories of these people to all of us.