Time's Person of the Year goes to journalists

Time published four magazine covers to spotlight the different persecuted honourees: (Clockwise from top left) murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi; the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, where a gunman killed five people in Ju
Time published four magazine covers to spotlight the different persecuted honourees: (Clockwise from top left) murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi; the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, where a gunman killed five people in June; Philippine news site Rappler founder Maria Ressa; and jailed Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in October at his country's Istanbul consulate, was named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" yesterday, an honour he shared with other persecuted journalists in a cover story headlined "The Guardians and the War on Truth".

Mr Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed two months ago at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul when he went there to collect documents for his forthcoming marriage.

It is the first time someone has been chosen posthumously for the prestigious cover.

The 95-year-old magazine also honoured Ms Maria Ressa, the founder of the Philippine news site Rappler, which has been a frequent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Rappler has attracted the President's ire for its coverage of Mr Duterte's violent war on drugs. The war has left some 12,000 people dead, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate in January.

Last month, the site was charged with tax fraud, which could land Ms Ressa in jail for up to 10 years.

Reuters journalists Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, whom the government of Myanmar convicted on Sept 3 under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act in a case seen as a test of democratic freedoms in Myanmar, were also honoured.

The two journalists had documented the slaying of 10 minority Rohingya Muslims, for which they were sentenced to seven years in prison even as the killers they exposed got 10 years in jail.

Also recognised as "Guardians" were the staff of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, where a gunman shot and killed five people in June.

Time, which has awarded the Person of the Year title annually since 1927, published four different magazine covers for this week's edition, each one spotlighting different honourees.

Its annual distinction is intended to recognise the person, group, thing or idea that had the greatest influence on world events that year.

US President Donald Trump, the 2016 Person of the Year, was the bookmakers' favourite this year, but in the end was runner-up.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, investigating possible collusion between Russia and Mr Trump's 2016 election campaign, was ranked third.

Time said it chose to honour journalism at time when the practice is under threat both from governments and technological advances.

"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, the Capital Gazette, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo - are Time's Person of the Year 2018," Time editor-in-chief and chief executive Edward Felsenthal said in a statement.

The Time magazine story noted that there were other examples of excessive actions against journalists worldwide, with a record 262 journalists imprisoned last year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2018, with the headline 'Time's Person of the Year goes to journalists'. Print Edition | Subscribe