The Guardians of Truth Named TIME Person of the Year 2018


Time Person of the Year 2018 Jamal Khashoggi

For the first time, TIME Magazine‘s annual Person of the Year is someone who has already died: Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist whose apparent recent murder presumably stemmed from his too-close examination of the government of the ruling Faisal family of Saudi Arabia.

But such is the importance that the iconic former newsweekly has attached to what it characterized as attacks on the “guardians of the truth” in the global press. Khashoggi was one of a cluster of journalists that TIME identified as “professional truth seekers” who this year have been either killed or jailed for pursuing stories that make the high and mighty very uncomfortable—or outright vengeful.

Besides Khashoggi, the honorees were the staff of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland, five of whom were slaughtered in an attack by a disgruntled reader; journalist Maria Ressa, chief executive of The Rappler news web site, who has been made a legal target for the outlet’s coverage of Philippines President Rodrigu Duterte; and journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have been jailed in Myanmar for their work exposing the mass killings of Rohingya Muslims.

“As we looked at the choices, it became clear that the manipulation and the abuse of truth is really the common thread in so many of this year’s major stories, from Russia to Riyadh to Silicon Valley, Edward Felsenthal, TIME‘s editor, said on The Today Show in making the announcement.

Of Khashoggi, Felsenthal said, “His murder has prompted a global reassessment of the Saudi crown prince and a really long overdue look at the devastating war in Yemen.”

TIME also cited the general increase in 2018 of journalists murdered around the world. And while part of the backdrop for the magazine’s selection clearly is the ongoing battle between President Trump and the mainstream American news media over “fake news” and Trump’s attacks on them as “the enemy of the people,” the magazine chose to address that context only obliquely in its actual selections and to focus mostly on outright repression of journalists abroad.

In a statement, Fred Ryan, publisher of the Washington Post, applauded TIME for highlighting journalists’ work. Its selections were “a powerful reminder of the critical role journalists play and the increasing dangers they face,” he said.