Time magazine on Tuesday recognized journalists, including the slain Saudi Arabian columnist Jamal Khashoggi, as its Person of the Year in what it said was an effort to emphasize the importance of reporters’ work in an increasingly hostile world.
The designation was not intended as a specific message to the magazine’s runner-up, US President Donald Trump, who has denounced “fake news” and called some reporters enemies of the people, executive editor Ben Goldberger said.
Time cited four figures it called “the guardians.”
Besides Khashoggi, they are the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, where five people were shot to death in June; Philippine journalist Maria Ressa; and Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have been jailed in Myanmar for a year.
It was the first time since the magazine began the end-of-year tradition in 1927 that Time featured a journalist or recognized someone posthumously.
Time said that this year has been marked by manipulation and abuse of information, along with efforts by governments to foment mistrust of the facts.
Goldberger said the magazine hopes the choice reminds people outside of journalism about the importance of the work.
Committee to Protect Journalists executive director Joel Simon said he sees this message already starting to get through — sadly, in part because of the attention paid to Khashoggi’s killing.
Khashoggi is one of at least 52 journalists murdered so far this year, the committee said.
“In some ways, I feel we’re at a turning point,” Simon said.
Khashoggi was killed two months ago when the Washington Post columnist, who was living in the US, visited the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey for paperwork so he could get married. He had been critical of the Saudi Arabian regime.
The Washington Post applauded Time for its message of support for journalists.
“We hope this recognition will prompt our nation’s leaders to stand up for America’s values and hold accountable those who attempt to silence journalists who cover our communities, or in Jamal’s case, an oppressive authoritarian government,” Washington Post publisher and chief executive Fred Ryan said.
Reesa cofounded online site the Rappler, which has aggressively covered the government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. She was recently charged with tax fraud, with many in the Philippines seeing that as a reaction to the Rappler’s reporting.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were imprisoned after investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslims.
Four journalists and a sales assistant were killed by a gunman at the Capital Gazette newspaper in spring.
Time is producing four different covers featuring “the guardians.”
Last year, Time recognized people who came forward to report on sexual misconduct. Trump, this year’s runner-up, was Person of the Year in 2016.
The third-place finisher this year was US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who Time said could move up in next year’s rankings depending on the findings of his investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia.
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