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December 11, 2018updated 30 Sep 2022 7:14am

Time honours oppressed journalists including Jamal Khashoggi and jailed Reuters duo with Person of the Year title

By Charlotte Tobitt

A murdered journalist, two in prison, one under arrest and a newspaper that was the target of a fatal shooting have jointly been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for “taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths”.

Under the heading “The Guardians and the War on Truth” Time has released four separate covers (see below). Gracing them are:

  • Slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi
  • Jailed Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo
  • Persecuted editor Maria Ressa
  • Journalists at the Capital Gazette where five were killed in a gun attack

Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said they were “representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world… who risk all to tell the story of our time”.

The magazine said: “For taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts, for speaking up and for speaking out, the Guardians… are Time’s Person of the Year.”

Washington Post columnist Khashoggi, who was killed when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2 October, is Time’s first ever Person of the Year who is no longer alive.

Felsenthal wrote that it is “rare that a person’s influence grows so immensely in death”.

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Khashoggi’s death, said by the CIA to have been ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has caused a global backlash with calls for nations such as the US and UK to cut ties and end arms trading with the kingdom.

Reuters journalists Lone and Soe Oo were imprisoned in Myanmar almost exactly a year ago on 12 December.

They were sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment in September after being found guilty of breaching the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act by being in possession of confidential documents.

At the time of their arrests, Lone and Soe Oo were investigating violence against Rohingya Muslims. They have always denied the charges, contending they were framed by police.

Reuters has lodged an appeal against their conviction.

The pair were jointly awarded the Foreign Affairs Journalism and Global Investigation of the Year prizes at last night’s British Journalism Awards, which Press Gazette editor-in-chief Dominic Ponsford said had “sent out the strongest possible message of support for them”.

Lone and Soe Oo’s wives were photographed holding photos of their jailed husbands for one of the magazine’s covers.

Five people – four journalists and a sales assistant – were killed when a gunman stormed the offices of daily newspaper the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, in June.

Felsenthal wrote: “The massacre [the gunman] perpetrated made America the fourth-deadliest country in the world to be a journalist this year.

“But while the loss was immense and intensely personal, that day the staff at one of the nation’s oldest news outlets did what it has done since before the American ­Revolution—they put the paper out.”

Finally Maria Ressa, founder and editor of Philippine news site Rappler, has been charged with tax fraud offences that are widely seen as an effort to intimidate her and stifle her work.

Rappler is known for what Felsenthal described as “its fearless reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s propaganda machine and extrajudicial killings”.

He added: “In return, she has faced a barrage of government lawsuits aimed at the site, and violent hate messages on social media.”

As of 10 December, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018, according to Time.

Reporters Without Borders claims 63 journalists, 13 citizen journalists and four media assistants have been killed so far this year.

The Society of Professional Journalists in the US said today: “We couldn’t be happier with Time’s choice for Person of the Year.

“In 2018, journalists gave their lives and freedom in pursuit of telling the truth. Their sacrifices deserve to be recognised.”

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