For 72 years, Time magazine's most anticipated cover was titled "Man of the Year" – until 1999, when the title was changed to "Person of the Year." Nonetheless, the male pattern remained, and the majority of those picked for "Person of the Year" have been men.
The original Man of the Year was generally chosen from among the leaders of the world's governments, but since its revival in 1991, the editor has selected someone who has had an impact on the world by their actions, or whose work affects many people even if they are not in positions of power. The current Editor-in-Chief is Edward Felsenthal, while John Freeman serves as Managing Editor.
Time first published an article about its annual selection on January 9, 1931. That year, the cover story was titled "The Man Who Conquered His Fear of Death," and it described how Edwin Land, an American inventor, had created a successful camera lens. Land had previously sold advertising space on his company's film stock, but now he began marketing the lenses themselves. The article also mentioned that Hitler would be given consideration for Man of the Year.
In 1932, after President Herbert Hoover was chosen again, the award went to Gandhi for his efforts toward peace in India. In 1933, after Roosevelt became president, he was chosen instead.
It's a distinctive way to celebrate Women's History Month, but it's also an acknowledgement that for many years, women's contributions were systematically overlooked. For 72 years, Time's most anticipated cover was called "Man of the Year"—until 1999, when the magazine changed the title to "Person of the Year."
Time's editor at the time, Richard Stengel, said in a statement: "After looking back over the century's events, we decided to switch our focus to people instead."
The choice of person of the year is chosen by Time's editors based on current events and history-making individuals. Previous choices include such notable figures as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln.
While all historical achievements should be celebrated, not every person who has made an impact on history deserves to be named "Person of the Year". For example, if we were to choose only one winner from within any single country, then Donald Trump would be a strong candidate. His influence on global politics is unprecedented. However, because this is a worldwide category, we feel that Nelson Mandela is a more appropriate choice.
Time's decision not to name a man as their person of the year is likely to cause controversy among some readers. However, we believe it's important to recognize women's contributions to society through history-making individuals rather than groups or organizations.
Over the years, one of the magazine's most popular features has been the "Man of the Year" issue (later "Person of the Year"), in which the magazine acknowledges the people, group, or item that had the greatest effect on the year's news. The editor chooses someone worthy of recognition at any time during the year and publishes a list of those choices each December.
The first Man of the Year was Alexander Solzhenitsyn in 1970. He was selected by Editor Henry Luce III as part of a campaign to promote the magazine after the success of previous years' issues focusing on Mao Zedong, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesus Christ.
Other famous men honored by Man of the Year include Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, Jackie Robinson, and Malcolm X. Women's equivalent titles are also published annually by Time—including Heroine of the Year, which has been awarded to such figures as Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Anne Frank, Hillary Clinton, and Mae Jemison.
Time names its Man of the Year in two parts: first, they select a person who has made an extraordinary contribution to his or her field over an extended period of time; second, they look for people who have been under-recognized but who are currently making a difference in their communities or countries.