TIME Magazine Person of the Year 2020 causes controversy


The 2020 year has been nothing short of shocking, and it hasn’t let up yet. TIME Magazine released their Person of the Year (POTY) issue on December 10th and the results had people talking.

TIME named President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris as this years Person of the Year, surpassing the finalists: the frontline healthcare workers, the racial justice movements, and President Donald Trump. The announcement post, found on the TIME Instagram page, was captioned with a quote from the accompanying article.

“Biden has set the vision, set the tone and topped the ticket. But he also recognized what he could not offer on his own, what a 78-year-old white man could never provide: generational change, a fresh perspective, and an embodiment of America’s diversity, for that, he needed Kamala Harris: California senator, former district attorney and state attorney general, a biracial child of immigrants whose charisma and tough questioning of Trump Administration officials electrified millions of Democrats. The Vice President has never before been a woman, or Black, or Asian American. ‘I will be the first, but I will not be the last.’ Harris says in a separate interview. ‘That’s about legacy, that’s about creating a pathway, that’s about leaving the door more open than it was when you walked in.'” TIME reporter Charlotte Alter wrote.

Since the release of the issue, many people have taken to social media to voice their opinions. People expressed their disappointment with TIME, stating that the Healthcare workers have done more for this year than anyone, and deserve to be recognized. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter have had their fair share of criticism from users.

“Your POTY pick is a slap in the face to healthcare workers, essential workers, vaccine scientists, protestors, racial justice activists, and more.” One twitter user stated in an email sent to TIME.

They weren’t the only one. An image was quickly spread across multiple platforms in response to the issue depicting the original cover image alongside an edited version containing the healthcare workers. The image was captioned with “Make it viral- we fixed it for you Time.”

One Twitter user who posted the image stated that the 2020 POTY pick was “a hit piece on Trump and nothing more.”

Social media users weren’t the only ones to disagree with TIME. Several opinion pieces surfaced following the release stating their distaste with the decision. One piece, “No, Time magazine, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are not Person of the Year during this global pandemic” written by Vinay Menon for Toronto Star.

Throughout the piece Menon discusses his disagreement with the POTY pick for 2020. He states that TIME “completely screwed up” with their pick, and mentions that there were people way more deserving than Biden and Harris.

“Again, no disrespect to Biden or Harris. None. But you cant possibly tell me the 2020 Person of the Year is not the doctors and healthcare workers on the front lines who have logged insane hours with pitiful supplies, putting themselves at risk while tending to the sick and the dying. These heroes have performed miracles.” Menon wrote.

Menon discussed in his piece how it was not a matter of awarding a group the title, listing all the years prior where that occurred. The entire piece emphasizes the difference in impact between the medical workers and the President and Vice President elects.

“We are in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic. Years from now, long after Joe Biden is a distant memory and Kamala Harris is an answer to a trivia question, what we will remember is how a microbe turned the world upside down. We will remember the masks and the lockdowns and the shattered economy and overwhelming sense of dread. We will remember the gap in not seeing our family and friends. We will remember how everything changed overnight.”

The POTY decision has left with readers the impression of disregard and disrespect towards the healthcare workers that many can’t overlook. While that decision won’t likely change, people have done what they can to let TIME Magazine and the healthcare workers who they support.

As the year comes to a close, people only hope that 2021 brings a much needed turnaround.