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TIME’s Person of 2018 Continues To Be A Political Statement

Time magazine released the 2018 Person of the Year Tuesday morning on the Today show.  The Guardians are what TIME called the group of people selected: Jamal Khashoggi, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Maria Ressa, and the Capital Gazette. The selected people are all reporters who have been jailed, indicted, or murdered because of their profession. 

Time named the Guardians, and added a short statement: the War on Truth. The War on Truth, according to Time, is the violent backlash in which journalists now face. Jamal Khashoggi, was a journalist well-known for criticizing the Saudi government– an expression that would result in his murder.  Wa Lone and Kysaw Soe Oo were indicted and jailed for publishing a story that exposed the mass murders of the Muslim Myanmar Rohingya people.  Maria Ressa, founder of the Rappler, has been critical of the Philippine government, specifically President Rodrigo Duterte, and has been jailed and accused of tax evasion. She claims that these charges are brought against her due to her speaking against the government.  The Capital Gazette is a newspaper run in Annapolis, Maryland, that had a shooting where five people were murdered. Those dead and those who are still alive are on the Time list. 

Time awarded the Person of the Year in 2017 to the Silence Breakers, people who came forth to discuss their #MeToo experiences. Not calling it political is out of the question– it politicized and publicized sexual harassment and assault and established what was okay and not okay. 

Time deemed the Person of the Year in 2016 to who is now President Donald Trump. It also was a political statement, meant to show the world who the next president of the United States was going to be. Time awarded the Person of the Year in 2015 to Angela Merkel, German chancellor. Once again, this was meant to highlight Merkel’s political accomplishments. 

It isn’t a bad thing that TIME’s Person of the Year is a politician. In fact, it is most likely a good thing for readers to be aware of these incredible people, their backgrounds, and their politics. It is not a bad thing that Time’s Person of the Year may be a political statement. These people tend to stand for great issues. TIME has used the Person of the Year to highlight politics in a way that some years was blatant, but with other years was less so. 

In a quote to the Rappler, editor in chief of Time Edward Felsenthal said, “As we looked at the choices, it became clear that manipulation and abuse of truth is really the common thread in so many of this year’s major stories (…) so we chose to highlight four individuals and one group who have taken great risks in pursuit of greater truth, starting with Jamal Khashoggi.” 

Featured image: Moises Saman- Magnum Photos for TIME

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Mia Boccher
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