The World and How I See It: Who does not belong here?

Malala Yousafzai: Adolescent womens' education supporter who was the victim of a failed assassination attempt by the Taliban. Yousafzai hasn't backed down despite her injury, but has continued to fight for the right of an education for girls all over the world.

Zachary Denney, Online & Opinion Editor

Time Magazine—the nation’s most successful newsmagazine since 1923— has covered the most impacting events and people of the 20th and now 21st centuries, but that achievement is now under threat of being tarnished.  Who is to blame?  A “symbol” of our generation— Miley Cyrus.  At the end of every year since 1927, the world has watched and waited for Time’s “Person of the Year.”  Some of the people who have been honored with this title have included Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II and Wallis Simpson, the mistress of King Edward VIII.

This year, Time set up a poll for people to vote for who they think should be the Person of the Year.  The finalists included Malala Yousafzai, Pope Francis, the royal baby Prince George of Cambridge, and Miley Cyrus.  Out of all the people who were finalists, Miley Cyrus led the poll.

Are you finished throwing up yet?  Yeah, neither am I.  When somebody like Miley Cyrus, who really has done nothing to better the world let alone anything of importance, gets more votes than a girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education rights, a pope who has brought more attention to the world’s poor and hungry, and a baby who will one day rule 16 countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations, I seriously have to reevaluate what the national media is doing to our society.

If Miley Cyrus becomes the 2013 Time Person of the Year, it will be the worst year by far for Time since 1933, when Adolph Hitler was Person of the Year.  Well, at least she hasn’t committed mass genocide or invaded peace-loving nations, but what has she done to change the world by twerking, popping Mollys and sticking her tongue out?  I don’t care if she’s been in a club with sunglasses on and high off “purp,” she doesn’t deserve to be the Person of the Year!

She may be a big star in the music world, but she’s far from being a role model.  The Person of the Year should be a role model to the world, a person who’s done something to help others.  Obviously, Time has slipped up before by having Hitler, several Soviet leaders and Ayatollah Khomeini as Person of the Year in years past, but picking Miley Cyrus would cross the line.  As I’ve said, she’s made no contribution to anything positive.

Sure, she used to be somewhat of a role model, but Time chose her because of the recent things she has done to change her status as a star.  None of those things beat getting shot in the head or trouncing democracy to an oppressed nation.  They never will.

The Person of the Year should be either someone like Malala Yousafzai or a humanitarian figure.  There are so many people doing countless wonderful things in the world today.  The title could go to the people vaccinating children in Syria to prevent an outbreak of Polio.  Time could honor the aid workers helping to build back the fallen villages, towns and cities destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. The point is, you have to earn titles and something like the Person of the Year takes a lot of work, of which Ms. Cyrus has done none.

I think another thing we can blame for this controversy is the decline of American journalism.  We’re no longer the land of Walter Cronkite or of big stories in Newsweek, Life, and Time.  We’re a country that prefers “fluff” stories over “hard” news.  How a prestigious magazine like Time, with over eight decades of excellent reporting could allow something like this to even happen, scares me.

I love journalism.  It’s something I want in my life.  I want to go out and find the big stories and listen to the “little” people, but I’m sometimes discouraged by what some of us call news or excellent reporting.  Surely if I was the editor of a newsmagazine or the director of a news agency, I’d give my readers or watchers what they lack— real news.

Thankfully, Ms. Cyrus is no longer number one in the poll.  She’s been surpassed by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and the military leader of Egypt.  Still, it makes me cringe that she got more votes than people like Malala, the pope, and so many other interesting and hard-working people.