Pin It

TIME Person Of The Year: History And Controversial Decisions

TIME Magazine selects an annual Person of the Year, whether man, woman or group or a concept deemed the most influential over the last one-year period. Ira Riklis discovers the history of the annual Person of the Year, details about decisions and controversial faces gracing the cover of TIME as Person of the year.

TIME Man Of The Year

Charles Lindbergh graced the January 2, 1928, issue of TIME, proclaimed “Man of the Year.” Every year after the initial selection of Lindbergh, TIME began selecting a “Man of the Year.”

At that time, there was likely little thought of a woman or group becoming Person of the Year. After all, a woman’s place was in the home, not in the public eye.

TIME did choose women as Person of the Year, however. A woman first graced the cover decades ago, selected using the same criteria to name Man of the Year.

Wallis Simpson Named Person Of The Year

One woman soared into the public eye as the TIME as Person of the Year. That woman was Wallis Simpson, mistress of King Edward VIII. Town & Country Magazine explains that as a twice-divorced American socialite, the English Church did not consider her a suitable wife for Edward and certainly not a proper royal.

After the death of King George V, Edward assumed the throne. The couple married in 1937 anyway, over the objections of the Church of England. This marriage forced King Edward VIII into abdicating the throne.

TIME chose her as Person of the Year because of her influence over the previous 12 months. One fact about the Person of the Year that TIME takes into consideration is the fact that the individual does not have to be the most well-liked person.

Controversial Decisions For Person Of The Year

The fact that TIME chooses the most influential and not the most popular individual as Person of the Year occasionally leads to controversial decisions. As the New York Daily News points out, “The Person of the Year does not have to be well-liked.”

New York Daily News lists the “Top 10 most controversial people and things named Person of the Year.” Wallis Simpson is on that list, as are Hitler and Stalin, Ayatollah Khomeini, Martin Luther King Jr., the computer and “You.” Yes, in 2006, TIME actually named everyone as Person of the Year.

Person Of The Year: An Accidental Occurrence

TIME reveals that with the proclamation of Dwight Eisenhower as Man of the Year in 1944, TIME addressed readers with news that the Person of the Year was created by accident.

The article states that editors had no person of the week to put on the cover that coincided with current events and that someone suggested naming a “Man of the Year” and to put that individual on the cover of TIME, along with a relevant story. Lindbergh, the hero who crossed the Atlantic solo in less than 34 hours was the obvious choice.

The Silence Breakers

Although the actual article about Lindbergh proved quite brief, TIME started an annual tradition that many people across the globe likely look forward to, wondering who TIME will likely select from among the announced finalists.

One person who was considered but not selected in 2017 was Donald Trump, U.S. President, accused of having a fake TIME cover of himself hanging in several of his golf clubs, reported by CNN and other sources. TIME asked Trump to remove the fake covers.

This year, TIME named the Silence Breakers, #MeToo, 2017 Person of the Year. The Silence Breakers took back their own power and came forward to report sexual harassment and abuse by men in powerful positions.