Time magazine makes headlines and generates plenty of reaction every year when it publishes its "Person of the Year" edition, and that was certainly the case Wednesday when President-elect Donald Trump was chosen for 2016.
The reaction to the selection was swift and varied. A few snippets I found through a simple search on Twitter:
The angry: "This is what humanity has to offer? If this is the person of the year then people don't deserve to exist"
The happy: "Congratulations to @realDonaldTrump on being named person of the year. Well deserved #MAGA"
The funny: "Hillary Clinton also won the popular vote for TIME 'Person of the Year'"
And then there was this from Trump himself, speaking on television Wednesday morning: "It's a great honor. It means a lot, especially me growing up reading Time magazine. And it's a very important magazine, and I've been lucky enough to be on the cover many times this year — and last year. But I consider this a very, very great honor."
One thing all of those reactions have in common? They miss the point of the "Person of the Year" selection.
Read the Time article that's in the magazine (or even the headline that goes with the cover) and you'll see that this is not a celebration of Trump. It's an acknowledgement and analysis of why he was the person on the planet who had the most influence during the calendar year. Given how the presidential campaign unfolded and the stunning result on Election Day, I'd go so far as to say choosing Trump was a no-brainer.
The reaction to the Time piece also got me thinking of an exercise we do at The Citizen every year — picking the 10 biggest local stories of the year.
We plan to do it again before the end of the month, and just like with Time's Person of the Year, our biggest stories list and the decisions about how to rank them are a reflection of community impact. Some are what could be considered "happy" stories, like the years we put the Weedsport and Auburn football state championship runs on our lists. But others are decidedly negative, like the years major employers Bombardier and McQuay announced plant closures. Others reflect controversy that consumed the community, and sometimes there are tragic stories that have to be included.
In the end, the main question is this: What were the stories that affected lives the most and generated the most conversation as a result?
As a person who has devoted my entire career to journalism, it's hard not to get caught up in one of Trump's main themes, bashing the news media. He's not the first high-level politician to do this, though, and I know that the majority of the hard-working professionals in our industry don't plan to do anything but cover his administration as thoroughly as possible, no matter what obstacles stand in the way.
And that's good news for our democracy, which relies on a robust free press to keep government accountable. To that degree, it's been encouraging to see reports of spikes in subscriptions for newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post in the weeks after the election. Nonprofit news organizations are also reporting higher donations.
And now for my shameless plug: This trend needs to extend to the news organizations that affect our daily lives the most, local news media. The bottom line is that good journalism needs to be supported financially in order to exist. In an age when we're now talking about the dangerous fallout of fake news stories circulating on social media, the newspapers, TV and radio stations, and digital sites that are staffed by dedicated, trained professionals are as important as ever.
If you live and/or work in the Cayuga County area and aren't already a subscriber, I humbly ask you to visit auburnpub.com/subscribenow and see what we have to offer.