“They are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world…who risk all to tell the story of our time.”
Capping off a year marked by accusations of “fake news,” hurled at journalists by President Donald Trump and other global threats to press freedom, TIME magazine selected as Person of the Year journalists who have spent the past year fighting increased hostility toward their work—including those who lost their lives as a result of their reporting.
Calling journalists under attack “guardians” of the truth, the magazine announced the selected Tuesday as it prepared to release four covers of the yearly issue.
“Like all human gifts, courage comes to us at varying levels and at varying moments,”wrote editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal. “This year we are recognizing four journalists and one news organization who have paid a terrible price to seize the challenge of this moment…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.”
One cover will feature Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist murdered by the Saudi ruling monarchy in response to his critical coverage.
TIME’s 2018 Person of the Year goes to “The Guardians” — journalists who sacrificed everything for their work, including murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. pic.twitter.com/qIJ0L03dBu
— AJ+ (@ajplus) December 11, 2018
The wives of two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are behind bars in Myanmar for reporting on the killings of the Rohingya will appear on another.
Moe Thin Wai Zan is 3 years old
— Michelle Nichols (@michellenichols) December 11, 2018
One cover shows the staff of the Capital Gazette, the Maryland newspaper where five employees were killed in a shooting in June, perpetrated by a reader who objected to content they’d published. Surviving members of the staff reported on the attack against the paper, setting up makeshift work stations outside while police investigated, and putting out a paper with coverage of the shooting the next day.
— Capital Gazette (@capgaznews) December 11, 2018
And Filipino journalist Maria Ressa will appear on the fourth cover. Ressa faces up to 10 years in prison on tax fraud charges; supporters say she is the victim of a crackdown on the press in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte.
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) December 11, 2018
The world has become an increasingly dangerous place for journalists, wrote Karl Vick in TIME‘s feature article on the journalists, as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) expects to record even more imprisonments of reporters than it did in 2017, when 262 journalists were put behind bars for their work.
Time also highlighted other challenges faced by journalists around the world in 2018, including increased consolidation of the media, with right-wing corporation Sinclair Broadcast Group controlling nearly 200 TV stations around the U.S.; the spread of misinformation on social media; and the loss of nearly 2,000 local American newsrooms as companies like Facebook and Google take away ad revenue.
The magazine also considered the students who organized the March for Our Lives to demand strict gun control in the U.S., Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border by the Trump administration, as 2018’s Person of the Year, before settling on the journalists.
“The press always has and always will commit errors of judgment, of omission, of accuracy. And yet what it does is fundamental,” wrote Felsenthal. “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…are TIME’s Person of the Year.”