Bummer! I was going to cast a ballot for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, when I discovered that my candidate had not been nominated. Link here.
It wasn’t a total loss. Time’s editors state clearly that your vote doesn’t really count for anything-- they themselves will make the ultimate decision-- but at least you can have some fun casting a meaningless vote.
How do you get to be Person of the Year? The editors explain: “TIME's Person of the Year is bestowed by the editors on the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.”
The magazine’s editors choose the candidates, and the voting will show, if nothing else, who still reads Time.
That’s where it all becomes a little scary.
As I am writing, the leading vote gatherer is none other than… Julian Assange. If that does not dampen your optimism about America, nothing will.
At least, it tells us why the editors do not trust their readers to make the selection.
Julian Assange did have a moment or two in the spotlight. He dumped tens of thousands of stolen, classified American military documents into the media. Beyond that he had a secondary media moment when he was accused of sexual assault in Stockholm.
Beyond that, he has disappeared from public view and from public concern.
His was a here today/gone tomorrow story. His efforts have had no real affect on American foreign policy.
None of it seems to matter to the great minds who read Time Magazine. Then again, it does tell us something about how well informed Time readers are.
Obviously, some of the other vote gatherers did affect the news. No one doubts that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were influential, to say nothing of Lady Gaga, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg.
One does wonder how Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it into fifth place. Maybe people still read Time Magazine in Istanbul.
But how did the editors leave off the list my candidate, the one “person” who was really the most important new story this year. That would be: The Tea Party.
If you’re thinking that The Tea Party is not a person, keep in mind that the Person of the Year is no longer limited to persons. A few years back Time named "The American" as Person of the Year. In 1988 it named "Endangered Earth" the Planet of the Year. In 2006 it outdid itself by naming your, and my, mirror image the Person of the Year.
To summarize, Time Magazine is supposed to have its finger on the pulse of America, Yet, it does not know that the Tea Party had the most influence on the news and our lives in 2010.
Could it be that it is living in a mainstream media bubble that spares it the indignity of having to deal with reality?
It’s easy to blame the internet for the decline of the mainstream media, but now we know that the editors of Time Magazine are completely out of touch with America.
Someday perhaps they will wake up to realize that their business model is not working because they think they are too good for the American public.
Having marginalized themselves, they only attract readers who are living in an alternative universe where Julian Assange dominated the news in 2010.
[Update: As of Saturday morning, Lady Gaga had overtaken Julian Assange to occupy first place in the minds of Time's readers.I suppose that Time readers are showing us that they recognize enduring celebrity when they see it. In something of a surprise, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has moved up to third place.]