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Time Snubs Readers' Choice Julian Assange, Names Mark Zuckerberg Person Of The Year

Kevin Douglas Grant |
December 15, 2010 | 7:28 a.m. PST

Executive Editor

It didn't matter that readers overwhelmingly selected WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as Time's Person of the Year.

The magazine's editorial board thought Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was the better choice.

Time lauded Zuckerberg Wednesday "for connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them (something that has never been done before); for creating a new system of exchanging information that has become both indispensable and sometimes a little scary; and finally, for changing how we all live our lives in ways that are innovative and even optimistic."

WikiLeaks was appalled by the decision, tweeting: "Editors snub Readers, choose @facebook's Zuckerberg NOT @wikileaks' Assange as Person of the Year. Proof @Time's a Magazine NOT a Democracy."

Editors paid lip service to two of the runners up, including Assange:

"Like two of our runners-up this year, Julian Assange and the Tea Party, Mark Zuckerberg doesn't have a whole lot of veneration for traditional authority. In a sense, Zuckerberg and Assange are two sides of the same coin. Both express a desire for openness and transparency."

Internet pioneer Dave Winer concurred that Zuckerberg was the wrong choice: "TIME chickened out. The POTY was *obviously* Julian Assange. He's a perfect example of the future we are already living in."

And Vanity Fair mocked the decisionmaking process:

"Editor 2: Oh my god. How about the Internet?

Editor 1: No, I know, we’re going to the Internet right now. The computer is on its way as we speak.

Editor 2: No I mean like, making the Internet the …

Editor 1: … Person of the Year!

Editor 2: Except just make it Mark Zuckerberg. Because the Internet’s not a person, technically."

Thought the weight of the Person of the Year (formerly Man of the Year) has decreased over the years, Time's decision is another example playing at audience empowerment, then stepping in to override it.




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