Every year, Time magazine awards the designation of Person of the Year to the individual or group of individuals they deem to have the biggest impact on the past year. The impact can be positive or negative, or neither. It all comes down to the scope of their influence over the events of the year. This year, Time chose four different groups of people to receive the designation. The four groups consist of journalists who faced persecution or were killed for their efforts to expose and protect the truth. The groups together were named the Guardians.

 

Jamal Khashoggi

 Jamal Khashoggi was a well-known reporter who posted criticism against the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. Khashoggi visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in order to get divorce papers so that he could remarry. However, upon his second visit, his Fiancée waited over 10 hours for him to exit the building. She returned the next morning when she still heard nothing from him. The Saudi prince released a statement saying that Khashoggi left the consulate after 30 minutes to an hour. However, the prince ultimately amended his statement and declared that a rogue agent was responsible. Evidence revealed that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered within the consulate and the remains had been disposed of. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi caused widespread condemnation by many of Saudi Arabia’s closest allies including the U.S.

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Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa, a reporter from the Philippines and founder of the publication the Rappler, was placed under arrest in late November under charges of tax fraud and evasion. However, Ressa stated that the charges were an excuse for the government to intimidate and harass her news publication. Ressa received heat from the government because of her criticism of President Rodrigo Duarte and his administration. The arrest of Ressa is just one of many examples of Duarte’s attempts to stifle the free flow of information in his country.

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Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo

Reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been imprisoned for over a year now as a result of their efforts to expose military crimes in Myanmar. The two were sentenced to seven years in prison but insist that they were set up by the police and the government. Their investigations centered on the murder of ten men by the military police. These men all belonged to a persecuted religious group known as Rohingya. It is speculated that the government arrested the reporters in an effort to prevent knowledge of their military violence against Rohingya people.

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The Staff of The Capital Gazette

In June a group of four reporters and a sales associate, all working for the Capital Gazette, were killed in their place of work by a disgruntled gunman. The gunman was angry about an article that had been released in 2011 that provided evidence of him harassing women. The shooting sparked debate about the anti-press rhetoric that is on the rise especially with the election of President Donald Trump. There is no direct link between the rhetoric perpetuated by President Trump and the shooter. However many journalists reacted with shock to the shooting creating a sense of anxiety about their relative safety.

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