The announcement of Time magazine’s Person of the Year last week created a great opportunity for the masses to reflect on, and defend, the concept of a free press, something that is defined in the First Amendment of our nation’s constitution.
In the last year, we have seen a journalist arrested while investigating a dictator, several journalists riddled with bullets while they sat working at their desks at a local newspaper, two journalists jailed while investigating a massacre, and more recently, a journalist who criticized a crown prince, brutally murdered, with his last words being “I can’t breathe.”
Time magazine has chosen “The Guardians”, the above group of journalists who have been targeted for their work, as Person of the Year. According to the magazine, the brave reporters have “taken great risks in pursuit of greater truths.” The four different black-and-white magazine covers highlight the overall theme of what Time magazine is referring to as “the War on Truth.”
The group of journalists named includes Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributor who was murdered at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in October, making this the first time that a Person of the Year is someone who is no longer living. This was an iconic move by the magazine and something that has rightly resonated with the public.
Time’s editor in chief, Edward Felsenthal, stated “as we looked at the choices, it became clear that the manipulation and abuse of trust is really the common thread in so many of this year’s major stories – from Russia to Riyadh to Silicon Valley.”
Journalists and reporters around the country saluted Time magazine last week for their decision to name “The Guardians” as Person of the Year, with many agreeing that while now is a difficult time to be a journalist, it has never been more important to have a press dedicated to seeking and sharing the truth, no matter the risks.
But, because of these risks in just this year alone, 52 journalists have been murdered around the world.
In a time when news moves faster than the speed of light, and in a world where a single tweet or declaration of “fake news” has the ability to put a target on a reporter’s back, it is important that we step back and remember the importance of, and the reason behind, a free press.
As an agency that handles public relations campaigns for many clients, our team works with the media every single day and has built lasting and meaningful relationships with reporters, journalists, anchors, producers, and editors across the country. We stand with the press and we are glad to see “The Guardians” selected as Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
While there is the age-old impression that media members and public relations staff often butt heads, which, in all honesty, does happen once in a while, we know that we are working together for a larger purpose: to maintain a fair, open, and honest free press that accurately informs the general public.
As an integrated communications firm dedicated to excellence, it is our duty to support the press. We are active members of the Public Relations Society of America, and PRSA National Chair Anthony D’Angelo said it best:
“There is no more time to wait and hope things will get better. Not when journalists are in jail, under arrest, being shot to death in the newsroom of an American daily paper, or otherwise murdered. This is a serious threat to a civilized society and our own profession. Journalists need and deserve our support. Let’s, as a profession, make sure they know they have it.”
We need the press, we respect the press, and we stand with the press.