While I’m sure you’re well aware of this already, Time Magazine has just recently named You as their ‘Person of the Year.’
No, not you, you suck. I’m talking about ‘You,’ with ‘You’ being an abstract way to represent the growing power of user-based content on the internet. This choice isn’t a proper one. With a title such as ‘Person of the Year’ I expect the honor not to be held by an abstract idea or a generalized group of people, but an actual, specific person.
Recent broad selections such as 2006’s “The Good Samaritans,” 2003’s “The American Soldier,” or 2002’s “The Whistleblowers” were equally weak. ‘Person of the Year’ should be the person who most defined the past year, for better or for worse. Why has Time been so unable, or perhaps, afraid, to present a single person with the title?
Maybe Donald Rumsfeld would be a more fitting selection, or Mark Foley, or Brad Pitt; by most accounts he is a human being, and he has received more news coverage this year than all of the nation’s recent scandals combined. How about placing Paris Hilton on the cover, with a simple headline, ‘This is what you really care about. Why America is a bunch of idiots.’ It’s the growing infatuation with celebrity that is destroying these publications from the inside out, not YouTube.
Choosing mySpace’s Tom, or that ‘Lonelygirl’ could be just as symbolic without further compromising the integrity of the title. This current selection seems desperate attempt to maintain relevance in a time when the media’s authority is constantly in question. What power can a weekly magazine hold when blog posts and streaming video can change the world overnight?
Like so many others, Time is struggling to create a new identity for themselves in the online world. Unfortunately, on the internet, true power is not held by faceless corporations, but faceless consumers. The individuals’ power to control information is what ultimately defines this generation. Though this is am important story to tell, it feels inappropriate and self-serving given the history of publication.
What they should be announcing on their cover is the death of print journalism, not the birth of an online revolution. The revolution has been here for years; it’s only through mySpace or YouTube that it has received a face.
Who is your Person of the Year?