Time magazine announced on Tuesday its pick for who should adorn the cover of its annual “Person of the Year” issue, and their selection is one that will likely ruffle a few feathers of leaders around the world: journalists.
Specifically, Time chose to honor Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who left his country after writing scathing criticisms of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and started writing for the Washington Post as a U.S. resident. While in Istanbul at the Saudi consulate in October, Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi forces, allegedly at the behest of bin Salman, according to most intelligence officials in countries from around the globe.
After his murder, the administration of President Donald Trump seemingly joined with Saudi officials in denying, and changing, their version of events of what transpired. The failure of government leaders in our own nation as well as abroad, to take seriously the work that journalists do, and the circumstances surrounding Khashoggi’s death was what prompted Time to pick him and other “guardians” of free press and access to information as their Person of the Year.
“Such independence is no small thing,” Time wrote in its piece explaining its choice. “It marks the distinction between tyranny and democracy. And in a world where budding authoritarians have advanced by blurring the difference, there was a clarity in the spectacle of a tyrant’s fury visited upon a man armed only with a pen.”
There are other journalists, too, that Time points toward as deserving of recognition for choosing to report despite the constant threats to their livelihoods that exist. Maria Ressa, whose reporting on violent actions by the Philippine government resulted in her being harassed by those same leaders, was worthy of recognition, the magazine noted. So, too, were journalists who were shot and killed in their offices at a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, as well as journalists who have been imprisoned in Myanmar for having the audacity to report on Rohingya Muslims who have been mistreated and killed by their own government.
In all, there are a record number of journalists imprisoned around the world today compared to other years, according to reporting from NBC News. The dedication to the profession, to the promise of bringing information to their audiences, is why Time selected Khashoggi and other journalists as their Person of the Year.
The choice may be a blow to other leaders around the world, including in the U.S. While speaking to reporters last month, President Donald Trump said he believed he should have been picked the Person of the Year, according to reporting from the Washington Post.
“I can’t imagine anybody else other than Trump, can you imagine anybody else other than Trump?” he asked rhetorically.