A group of journalists whose work has landed them in jail — or cost them their lives — have been named TIME’s Person of the Year for 2018.
“Like all human gifts, courage comes to us at varying levels and at varying moments,” the magazine’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal wrote in an essay about the selection. “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.”
Jamal Khashoggi is the Washington Post columnist murdered for his criticism of the Saudi crown prince. Maria Ressa is the editor of a Philippine news website renowned for its critical coverage of its president’s controversially violent policies. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are two Reuters journalists who were arrested in Myanmar while investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslims.
All of TIME's Person of the Year recipients
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TIME said the four individuals and the lone newspaper symbolize something bigger than themselves.
“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,” Felsenthal wrote in his essay.
The Person of the Year title is not necessarily an honor or award, but representative of the influence the person — or idea — has had on the news within the past year, for better or worse.
This marks the first year TIME has named someone who is no longer alive a Person of the Year, the magazine noted.
TIME has made the designation every year since 1927. Last year, magazine editors selected The Silence Breakers, the individuals who spoke up and sparked a national reckoning over the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault.
The year before that, 2016, was Donald Trump, who had just become president-elect after his stunning White House victory.
Editors named Trump as this year’s runner up, citing “a crowning irony” to the president’s influence.
“His ultimate impact may be determined as much by the resistance he engenders as by the goals he pursues,” the magazine said.
“This year brought forth the consequences of Trump’s disruption. The deficit soared. The stock market trembled. The voters revolted. Special counsel Robert Mueller circled closer. Trump has tested the system and exposed its weaknesses, but also revealed its strength.”
Following close behind as the third runner-up was Trump’s nemesis and the frequent subject of his anger on Twitter: Robert Mueller, the special counsel heading the investigation into Russia’s meddling into the 2016 presidential election.
“To critics on the right, Mueller is an overzealous prosecutor drunk on power and roaming beyond his mandate in a bid to drum Trump out of office. To liberals, he is a crusading hero who won’t quit until he brings the President to justice,” the magazine said. “The public narrative of Mueller’s investigation this year has often described its central character more as myth than man.”
Others who made the 2018 shortlist include the student activists who led a march on Washington — and hundreds of satellite marches across the world. The protests were led by the survivors of the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler, and the former Meghan Markle, now Duchess of Sussex were also among this year’s “Person of the Year” finalists.