Times Square New Year's celebration to honor media by bringing journalists onstage for ball drop

The Times Square New Year's Eve celebration is honoring the media and press freedom this year by inviting prominent journalists to be its special guests. 

Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment, co-organizers of Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration, said in a statement that it would also honor the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) as its official charity honoree. 

As the special guests, the journalists invited to the event will push the crystal ball that begins the world-famous ball drop in Times Square on Dec. 31. The organizers of the event said the identity of the journalists will be named closer to New Year's Eve. 

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“On New Year’s Eve we look back and reflect on the major events of the past year, we look forward with a sense of hope, and we celebrate the people and things we value most. This year, we're celebrating the free press and journalism and those who work to protect, preserve and practice it,” said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance.

“In a place that is synonymous with news and home to multiple national news broadcasts, and which itself was named after a newspaper (which started the New Year’s celebration here in 1904), no theme could be more apt as we enter 2019. And because press freedom is a global issue, we encourage everyone worldwide to #CelebratePressFreedom with us at the Crossroads of the World.” 

Joel Simon, executive director of the CPJ, said that the organization was "humbled to represent the journalists who bring us the news each day."

"We are inspired to #CelebratePressFreedom on New Year’s Eve and throughout the year ahead," he added. 

The decision to celebrate press freedom at the widely viewed event comes as journalists' safety gains heightened attention.

Earlier this month, Time magazine named a group of journalists who were imprisoned or killed in the past year as its 2018 "Person of the Year."

The publication highlighted the cases of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi and staff members of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland. It also drew attention to jailed journalists Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

Tarana Burke, the founder of the “Me Too” movement, served as one of the special guests of last year's Times Square New Year's Eve celebration