Time names murdered or imprisoned journalists 'Person of the Year,' followed by Trump, Mueller

Time Magazine on Tuesday named a group of journalists who were imprisoned or killed in the past year as its 2018 "Person of the Year," while President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump mocks wind power: 'When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television' Pentagon investigator probing whether acting chief boosted former employer Boeing Trump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral MORE was named the runner-up and special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE was the third choice.

The magazine gave the annual designation to "The Guardians and the War on Truth," specifically highlighting the cases of murdered journalists Jamal Khashoggi and staff members of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland, as well as jailed journalists Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

“Like all human gifts, courage comes to us at varying levels and at varying moments," Time 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."

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"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 added.

Time's annual "Person of the Year" pick is determined based on "who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year."

Trump previously earned the "Person of the Year" label in 2016.

Magazine editors on Tuesday said the president's runner-up status reflected his impact on the world, as well as the reaction he spurs from others.

"This year brought forth the consequences of Trump's disruption," they wrote. "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."

Editors also wrote that Mueller engendered equally strong, but divergent reactions from individuals depending on their political leanings.

"The public narrative of Mueller's investigation this year has often described its central character more as myth than man," they wrote.

Time published four different covers for its annual "Person of the Year" issue, with each cover featuring either Khashoggi, the Capital Gazette staff, Ressa, or the wives of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. 

The announcement was made on NBC's "Today" show

Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist, was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish leadership and U.S. lawmakers have expressed confidence that Saudi leadership was involved in the killing, which prompted international outrage.

Trump has drawn criticism for his handling of Khashoggi's death after he failed to condemn Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or issue harsher punishment toward the kingdom.

The Capital Gazette selection references the five staffers who were killed when a gunman opened fire in June at the newspaper's Annapolis, Md., offices. Police said the alleged shooter, Jarrod Ramos, had a long-running dispute with the newspaper.

Critics accused Trump after the shooting of stoking hostility toward journalists by referring to them as "fake news" and to some outlets as "enemies of the people."

The Time cover also recognized Ressa, a journalist in the Philippines who was charged last month with five counts of tax fraud. The charges carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison.

Ressa, who has written critically of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's policies, said the charges were intended to harass and intimidate her. Ressa posted bail in her case on Tuesday.

Time also highlighted the case of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters journalists who have been jailed in Myanmar for more a year. The two were sentenced in September to seven years in prison after a judge ruled that the men violated the law when they obtained confidential documents in their reporting on the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.

Vice President Pence has called on Myanmar to release the journalists.

Time, which originally launched the award in 1927, has chosen controversial winners, including Adolf Hitler in 1938, Joseph Stalin in 1939 and 1942 and Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 during the American hostage crisis, for example.

The magazine has chosen groups more often in recent years, with "The Whistleblowers" winning in 2002, "The American Soldier" in 2003, "The Good Samaritans" winning in 2005, "The Protester" in 2011, "Ebola Fighters" in 2014, and "The Silence Breakers" in 2017 to celebrate the #MeToo movement. It had rarely chosen groups before this time.

Almost every U.S. president has won the award since its inception, with the only exceptions being Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Gerald Ford.

— Joe Concha contributed to this report, which was updated at 9:04 a.m. on Dec. 12.