Past Person of the Year covers (clockwise from upper-left): Charles Lindbergh, 1927; The American Fighting-Man, 1950; Ayatollah Khomeini, 1979; The Computer, 1982; Rudy Giuliani, 2001. Image credit: Wikipedia
Next week, TIME plans to assemble a panel of celebrities, newsmakers, and news reporters, who’ll help select the magazine’s 2006 “Person of the Year.” TIME Editor Rick Stengel, Brian Williams, Emilio Estevez, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Arianna Huffington, and Tom DeLay will make the decision. After surveying the list of panelists, I’m not sure how they were chosen, but I do think the project sounds like fun.
According to TIME, the Person of the Year is one who “most affected the news and our lives this year, for good or for ill.” The recipient list leans toward individuals, but in the past, the title has also gone to groups of people and, in two unusual cases, an invention and Planet Earth.
The award isn’t necessarily an accolade; indeed, controversial figures such as the Ayatollah Khomeini and Adolph Hitler found their way onto the cover of this special magazine issue. And the “honor” doesn’t always go to politicians and policy wonks: scientists, philanthropists, authors, and other cultural icons have found themselves among its ranks. Very few women have been awarded this title, however, so maybe there’s an issue with gender bias that bears exploring. And even though panelists most frequently choose Americans, there’s much to say for expanding the list to reflect an inclusive, global perspective.
For starters, consider this guy, whose box-office earnings are entering the stratosphere, and who’s now entertaining multi-million-dollar offers for a book. Or how about this woman, whose power suits and power ploys are hot topics in D.C.? Maybe the timing’s right to bear witness to an inconvenient truth, or if you prefer, we could crown the king of truthiness. Undoubtedly, Miss Snark would swoon over this guy, but these men would make a more serious statement. So tell me, whom or what would you nominate for TIME Magazine’s 2006 Person of the Year?