Time Magazine confirmed on Tuesday that a group of various journalists that have been dubbed “The Guardians” will be the 2018 Person of the Year. “The Guardians” have been described by the magazine as individuals who have risked a lot in pursuit of greater truths. The list included slain Journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was mysteriously killed in a Saudi consulate in Turkey. Others in the list also included Maria Ressa, a journalist from the Philippines, and Reuters’ duo Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. Additionally, the list also featured Capital Gazette, a Maryland-based media company that lost five employees during a mass shooting in June this year.
According to Edward Felsenthal, the Editor in Chief at Time Magazine, this was the first time the publication chose someone who was no longer alive for the Person of the Year award. Felsenthal added that upon close scrutiny of the choices available, it was clear that the manipulation of the truth has been rife this year and journalists who have taken risks to bring out facts in the face of this manipulation deserve recognition.
Jamal Khashoggi, in particular, grabbed international headlines after news of his murder in a Saudi consulate emerged. The strong critic of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman also worked as a columnist for the Washington Post. He died in October this year. The CIA released a report weeks later confirming that the assassination was ordered by the crown prince. Despite this, the White House has stayed clear of the matter. President Donald Trump, for instance, shrugged the evidence presented by the CIA adding that the incident will not change the existing partnership between the US and the Middle Eastern kingdom.
Felsenthal noted that it’s very rare these days that a person’s influence could grow so immensely after they die. But this was exactly the case with Khashoggi. His murder prompted a massive global reassessment of Saudi Arabia and its human rights record including their involvement in the war in Yemen.
On the other hand, Maria Ressa, a veteran reporter on global terror and the CEO of a leading Filipino news website called “Rappler”, has been credited with driving the site to massive critical coverage. Ressa has also been targeted by the Filipino government. Just last month, she and her online news site were charged with multiple counts of tax fraud. Ressa maintained that the charges were designed to intimidate her. She’s now facing up to ten years in prison.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were both arrested in Myanmar last year. The journalists had been on an investigative mission regarding mass graves for Rohingya villagers in what has been termed in the UN as “genocidal intent” propagated by Myanmar officials. The two journalists were found guilty of obtaining secret state documents illegally and they were sentenced to seven years in prison. Myanmar’s police chief later came out and confirmed that the two journalists had been framed.
The Person of the Year award often features people who have had the biggest effect on new headlines for better or for worse over the last 12 months.