Time magazine has named a newspaper and four journalists, including Washington Post’s murdered Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, as its Person of the Year.
The Capital Gazette in the US state of Maryland’s Annapolis, two Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, as well as Khashoggi, were recognised as “Guardians” of truth, Time’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal announced on Tuesday.
“They are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world – as of December 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018 – who risk all to tell the story of our time,” Felsenthal wrote in an essay titled The Guardians and the War on Truth.
Time selected them “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 speaking out”.
Those chosen this year will appear in four different cover photos.
The Capital Gazette newspaper lost four journalists and a sales assistant in June when a gunman entered their newsroom and opened fire.
Khashoggi, who was killed two months ago at the Saudi consulate in Turkey’s Istanbul, is the first person to be nominated by the magazine post-mortem, Felsenthal said.
“But it’s also very rare that a person’s influence grows so immensely in death,” he said of Khashoggi. “His murder has prompted a global reassessment of the Saudi crown prince and a really long-overdue look at the devastating war in Yemen.”
The two Reuters journalists have been imprisoned for nearly a year in Myanmar after investigating a massacre of Rohingya.
Ressa is an award-winning Philippine journalist who, along with the online news service she heads, Rappler, has been sued for tax evasion.
She told Al Jazeera from Manila the nomination showed “how difficult it is to be a journalist”.
“This year we can’t get away from the impunity and the brutal killing of Khashoggi, the jailing of the Reuters journalists and the challenges we face here [in the Philippines], what’s happening in the United States,” she said.
“Journalists are under attack both online and in the real world and these real-world dangers are something we have to fight to just be able to do our jobs.”
In her own case, she said “the law had been weaponised” against Rappler. She vowed to keep on fighting in court.
Time has made the designation every year since 1927. The magazine says the Person of the Year title is not necessarily an honour or award, but representative of the influence the person – or idea – has had on the news within the past year – for better or worse.