Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Time Magazine's Person of the Year is...

…a joke.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t get Time’s “Person of the Year” thing anymore. This year, they’ve chosen Vladimir Putin. Time’s web site explained:

“TIME's Person of the Year is not and never has been an honor. It is not an endorsement. It is not a popularity contest. At its best, it is a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world—for better or for worse. It is ultimately about leadership—bold, earth-changing leadership. Putin is not a boy scout. He is not a democrat in any way that the West would define it. He is not a paragon of free speech. He stands, above all, for stability—stability before freedom, stability before choice, stability in a country that has hardly seen it for a hundred years. Whether he becomes more like the man for whom his grandfather prepared blinis—who himself was twice TIME's Person of the Year—or like Peter the Great, the historical figure he most admires; whether he proves to be a reformer or an autocrat who takes Russia back to an era of repression—this we will know only over the next decade. At significant cost to the principles and ideas that free nations prize, he has performed an extraordinary feat of leadership in imposing stability on a nation that has rarely known it and brought Russia back to the table of world power. For that reason, Vladimir Putin is TIME's 2007 Person of the Year.”

Time says it is not an honor. If this is the case, why do they make such a big deal out of it? They put the person on the cover of the magazine. They give extensive coverage to it in the magazine itself, in addition to other media coverage. For example, they announced it on the Today Show this morning. Time wants the attention, they want the controversy, so they can sell magazines.

According to its own article, Time says “But all this has a dark side. To achieve stability, Putin and his administration have dramatically curtailed freedoms. His government has shut down TV stations and newspapers, jailed businessmen whose wealth and influence challenged the Kremlin's hold on power, defanged opposition political parties and arrested those who confront his rule.” It sounds to me that this is a dictatorship in the making, and, in the long term, dictatorships don’t work for the country or for the people.

Time may say it’s not an honor, but I suspect that President Putin is pleased with the attention. Maybe it will help Time sell one more issue of their magazine.

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