Time selected Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Philippine editor Maria Ressa, jailed Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and the Capital Gazette of Annapolis, Md. as the magazine’s Person of the Year, recognizing the journalists as “guardians” at a time of a “war on truth.”
“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. Like all human gifts, courage comes to us at varying levels and at varying moments,” the publication said in its announcement. “This year we are recognizing four journalists and one news organization who have paid a terrible price to seize the challenge of this moment: Jamal Khashoggi, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and the Capital Gazette of Annapolis, Md.”
“They are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world—as of Dec. 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018—who risk all to tell the story of our time.”
Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, and his death has “prompted a global reassessment of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, who a CIA assessment concluded likely ordered the killing, and the devastating war he has waged in Yemen,” Time’s Edward Felsenthal wrote in announcing the selection.
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Time named the journalists to highlight what it called a “war on truth,” waged by authoritarian regimes but also on other fronts, including social media and in the local community.
“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,” Felsenthal wrote. “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.”
Ressa is the founder and editor of Rappler, a Philippine news site, which has reported “fearlessly”on President Rodrigo Duterte’s regime. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are in prison after exposing the mass execution of Rohingya Muslims by the military in Myanmar. The Capital Gazette was the target of a gunman who killed five staffers, after he allegedly was upset over the paper’s reporting on his harassment of a woman. On the day of the tragedy, the paper still published.