- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 19, 2002

On Media:

Once again, Osama bin Laden is on the short list for Time magazine's 2002 "Person of the Year" along with a motley assortment of heroes, villains, leaders, followers, bigmouths and sly survivors.
And once again, Time emphasizes that the title reflects "the person who most affected the news of our lives, for good or ill" in the words of Time founder Henry Luce, who started the tradition back in 1927.
Among the contenders: President Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, rapper Eminem, deposed domestic diva Martha Stewart, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, plus the generically worded "corporate crooks" and "Palestinian suicide bombers."
The latter riled New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser yesterday.
"If Time glorifies the savages who populate al Qaeda or Hamas, then the terrorists, truly will have won," she wrote.
"This is no time for Hollywood-style America-bashing," Miss Peyser told the magazine. "Your pages should not provide aid and comfort to the enemy. Honor our servicemen. Reward civilians who've suffered greatly from terror."
Will bin Laden make the cover? The possibility poses a peculiar editorial challenge: Time needs proof the elusive terrorist is alive, forcing editors to judge the credibility of audio or video recordings which periodically claim bin Laden is indeed alive.
Meanwhile, the choice for person of the year has ceased to be a singular journalistic moment and become a cottage industry. Time offers a special "preview" issue as well as a hard-bound copy after the fact. Readers can also vote online for their own choice.
To underscore the concept, the magazine now names a "person of the week" as well. Bin Laden, in fact, won the title Nov. 15, because he has "rightly or wrongly, come to symbolize America's continued vulnerability to terror attacks," Time said.
Then there are the dramatic possibilities. On Sunday, CNN will air "Person of the Year," a special report rife with behind-the-scenes hubbub over the decision, which CNN describes has "at times been controversial or surprising, but have always contributed to the public discussion."
The issue will be on newsstands Monday. Not everyone appreciates Time's efforts, however.
Irked that most candidates are men, Ms. magazine countered with their own "Woman of the Year."
"For all those who thought this was the post-feminist era, get over it," Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, which underwrites Ms. magazine, said when announcing the winner at the National Press Club recently.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, garnered the title "for gaining the trust of her colleagues to become the most powerful woman in Congress, while keeping the trust of her sisters by using that power for peace and the powerless."
Time still has its imitators, though. Internet giant Yahoo also named a "Person of the Year" this week, based on how many times a story or photo of a celebrity was viewed at their online news sites.
President Bush won.
"After guiding the U.S. through the aftermath of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, Bush has become a powerful leader in the global war on terrorism and one of the most popular presidents in U.S. history," Yahoo said.
Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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