TIME magazine named “The Guardians” and the “War on Truth” as the 2018 Person of the Year – marking the first time that someone who is no longer alive was selected.
Jamal Khashoggi, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and the Capital Gazette will grace four different versions of the prestigious cover. The magazine noted that the Person of the Year title isn’t always an honor, but representative of the influence a person, group or idea had within the last year -- for better or worse.
"Today, democracy around the world faces its biggest crisis in decades, its foundations undermined by invective from on high and toxins from below, by new technologies that power ancient impulses, by a poisonous cocktail of strongmen and weakening institutions,” TIME Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal said in a statement after breaking the news Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show.
Khashoggi – a Washington Post columnist -- was brutally murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Ressa is the editor of a Philippine news website often praised for criticizing the local government while Lone and Soe Oo were arrested while attempting to investigate the massacre of Rohingya Muslims and the Capital Gazette lost five staffers when a gunman burst into the newsroom.
“From Russia to Riyadh to Silicon Valley, manipulation and abuse of truth is the common thread in so many of this year’s major headlines, an insidious and growing threat to freedom,” Felsenthal continued. “In its highest forms, influence -- the measure that has for nine decades been the focus of TIME’s Person of the Year -- derives from courage.”
Felsenthal added that TIME is recognizing “four journalists and one news organization who have paid a terrible price to seize the challenge of this moment,” as they “are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world.”
The magazine noted that as of Dec. 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018.
“For taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts that are central to civil discourse, for speaking up and for speaking out, the Guardians—Jamal Khashoggi, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Maria Ressa and the Capital Gazette of Annapolis, Md.—are TIME’s Person of the Year,” Felsenthal said.
Last year, Trump famously claimed he “took a pass” on being TIME Magazine’s 2017 “Person of the Year” after the publication reportedly called and said they’d “probably” offer him the spot. The magazine disputed his claim and selected "The Silence Breakers" who helped advance the #MeToo movement.
Trump took home the honor in 2016 after his upset victory over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. The president may be disappointed, as he recently told reporters that he should be selected for a second time.
"I can’t imagine anybody else other than Trump,” he said. “Can you imagine anybody else other than Trump?”
Robert Mueller finished third, while finalists Vladimir Putin, Ryan Coogler, Christine Blassey Ford, Moon Jae-in, Meghan Markle, March of our Lives activists and Separated Families didn’t make the cut.
TIME began the annual tradition back in 1927 with the Man of the Year honor, which was changed to Person of the Year in 1999. Past winners include everyone from Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr. to “the computer” and “Ebola fighters."