TIME person of the year

Everything You Wanted to Know About TIME’s Person of the Year

TIME’s Deputy Managing Editor Radhika Jones answers your questions about how the choice is made, how editors keep it a secret and why inanimate objects are eligible

1927: Charles Lindbergh TIME

How long has Person of the Year been around?

It has a great origin story—or maybe more of a legend. At the end of 1927, the editors of TIME looked at the year’s covers and realized they had somehow failed to put Charles Lindbergh on the cover. He’d done his historic flight in May, but no cover. They decided they could get away with putting him on the cover months later by calling him “Man of the Year.” It was a stopgap. And here we are 87 years later. The challenge is that on one hand, we’re trying to make a decision about who best represents the news of the year. But the pick also needs to have archival value. You need the sense that it will stand the test of time. So ideally, we want our Person of the Year to be both a snapshot of where the world is and a picture of where it’s going. Someone, or in rare cases, something, that feels like a force of history.

(TIME Unveils Finalists for 2014 Person of the Year)

Tell me about the ‘for better or worse’ caveat that’s often attached to Person of the Year.

The criterion is “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.” A lot of news is bad news and a lot of people who make bad news are very powerful people. TIME’s editors aren’t immune to that reality. Famously, they named Hitler in 1938 and Stalin in 1939 and again in 1942. These were men who had a huge impact, not just in those years but over the entire century. It’s easy to stand by those choices, looking back. Arguably you could do a bad guy every year and be justified.

Earth isn’t a person and neither is the personal computer. What’s the deal with these inanimate objects?

It’s a good question. What I hear anecdotally is that readers are most satisfied when the Person of the Year is a person. Sometimes it’s been a thing; sometimes it’s been a collective. In 2011, it was The Protester, a sort of representative figure. We thought long and hard about that. Could we execute it in a way that would be satisfying? Would people understand what we were trying to say? We decided that we could, and they would. I think the personal computer really stands up. Although Steve Jobs was profiled for that issue, and you could argue the editors might have been more forward-looking had they named Steve Jobs for that year, 1982.

(These Are the Most Searched Candidates on the Person of the Year Poll)

Is that something you hear a lot? Why wasn’t Steve Jobs ever Person of the Year?

Definitely, particularly the year he died. To me the optimal year would have been 1984, when the first Mac came out. The 1984 Person of the Year was Peter Ueberroth, who ran the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Looking back, it’s easy to judge, but that would have been a good year for Steve.

Has the Person of the Year ever been someone who is deceased?

No. But nowhere is it written that it couldn’t be.

How secretive is the process of putting together the issue?

It’s a really fun journalistic property and I think a lot of fun leaks out of it if people have a sense of who it’s going to be. We have runners-up in the issue, so there are a number of stories in the mix each year, and we have to stay flexible, given the nature of the news. Very few people on the staff know who the front-runner is, or even the short list. Really only the people for whom it’s necessary to know, know — including a small circle of editors and the writer working on the story. Layout meetings are held in secret. This is my fifth year editing it and I’ve developed a good poker face.

Is it true that the announcement is made before the cover goes to the printers?

Yes, this year the announcement will be made on the Today show and to TIME’s 6.5 million Twitter followers on the morning of Dec. 10, as the issue goes to press. It goes live on TIME.com immediately, and our plan is for readers to be able to download the tablet edition on the 10th as well.

Do you feel outside pressure to make a certain choice, especially with social networking and the Internet?

We invite it, because we do this online poll, which is extremely unscientific. Response to the Person of the Year issue tends to be very focused on whom we put on the cover, but the issue is also our take on the entire year in review. The poll is part of our effort to remind ourselves and readers: these were the things that happened this year and these were the people who made them happen or the people to whom they happened. Certain narratives start to present themselves just through that group of names, about business or technology or human rights or culture or politics. What’s nice about the poll is that we get an unregulated sense of who piques the public’s interest. And while we don’t make our selection based on the poll results, it’s always interesting to see where some of our preferred candidates end up.

People always seem surprised to see entertainers like Taylor Swift on the Person of the Year poll list. Can you talk about why pop stars are included?

TIME has always covered news in its broadest sense. Working on Person of the Year, I’ve spent a lot of time in the archives and I learned that for the first four decades of its life, TIME put a person on the cover every week. There were a handful of exceptions (a horse, a flag, the city of Paris), but otherwise every week you’d see person on the cover—that’s part of the magazine’s ongoing legacy. Those people are not always world leaders or presidents of the United States or CEOs. Sometimes they are Julia Child or Woody Allen or Charlie’s Angels. And some of those covers are the most enduring covers of TIME. I do think there are arguments to be made for cultural figures. They don’t impact the news in the same way a dictator would, but they certainly signal something about where the world is at a given time. If people remember 2014 as the year of Beyonce, I wouldn’t say that’s entirely wrong.

Do you have any Person of the Year choices you find inspiring or unusual?

I’ve become partial to You from 2006. It’s a great issue. It gets a lot of flak because of the Mylar cover, but if you go back and read that issue of TIME, it’s a very strong statement about what was happening with user-generated content. I also like the “25 and Under” issue from 1966, partly because it has a great composite illustration on the cover, which is hard to pull off, but also it was a clever move to identify what would later be known as the Baby Boomer generation at that moment.

Any hints for this year?

No.

TIME Style

11 Ways to Get Dressed for Work Without Going Crazy

Clothes Man Shirt
Jan Stromme—Getty Images

A fashion insider offers tips for pulling yourself together

Meet George Brescia, a longtime fashion insider who has worked for big names like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger turned personal stylist and feel-good clothing guru. But the best thing about Brescia is that he’s about much more than just telling you which colors look good together. His new book, Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life, looks at the connection between our feelings and the clothes we put on our body. Brescia has even coined the term “conscious dressing” to appeal to those who have convinced themselves that what you wear just doesn’t matter. Even better, his how-to guide culminates with a checklist of must-have items for your closet (sneak peak: it runs from “the classic little black dress” to “three to four quality bras”).

Brescia wants to be your fashion fairy godfather and psychiatrist at the same time, using your style woes as a way to diagnose how your day-to-day struggles with clothes relate to issues that go beyond your wardrobe. Some of his advice might feel time consuming at first — he recommends eschewing sales and shopping online in lieu of hitting the stores in real life — but chances are you’ll end up feeling a little more aware of how your clothes affect every aspect of your life.

Here, tips from Brescia about how you can make your clothes work for you:

1) What you wear matters.

“It’s never about just wearing the clothes. People get so overwhelmed when they think about what to wear. So they just fall asleep at it, they just pick and they don’t think about what they’re wearing. And some people get really freaked out by it. They want to hide and not be seen, no matter what. But you’re required to wear clothing by law. So the key is that no matter what you do, other people are going to see you and think about what you’re wearing. And you’re going to think about them. Take that experience and work it to your advantage.”

2) You are your closet.

“Your closet is like the window to your soul. Your closet says everything about you. But I still see this all the time: What do you not wear 80% of the clothes that you own? People don’t know what to do, so they get overwhelmed and buy things they think they should. Which means a lot of people go into their closet and feel dread. You should go in and feel joyful.”

3) Learn from the likes.

“Go into your closet and start by going through piece by piece. We all know what these pieces are in terms of what you get compliments on. Don’t you have a sweater or a dress or a suit that people always say, ‘OMG! You look amazing?’ Take those pieces and start to gather them. But don’t just think about the superlatives — it’s time to learn from them. What color are they? How do they fit your body? If you’re getting compliments every time you wear green, green is a good color for you. This is a way to teach yourself about silhouettes, colors you look good in, fabric. And then go back to gather the things you’re not wearing. Make a pile and take it to a consignment shop or thrift store.”

4) Care about what you wear.

“Getting dressed isn’t superficial. It’s not for [other people], it’s for you. It makes you feel good by taking the time and making it an important thing, then you’re going to attract what you want in your life. If you take the time to figure out for yourself how you want to feel, dressing right can help. You can’t just try hard when the stakes are high. You’re making an impression whether you realize it or not.”

5) Throw away your old casual wear.

“Casual dress freaks women out the most. Figure out what you want to say — do you really want to be wearing your boyfriend’s basketball shorts on the treadmill at the gym? And you don’t have to pay a lot for casual clothes. You can get basics at amazing prices. There’s no excuse — it’s not costly! When you’re walking the dog, you don’t know who you’re going to bump into. No one is asking you to go out in a cocktail dress. If you’re grabbing something, it might as well be cute.”

6) Don’t break your bank.

“Everyone has their own budget. When you know what you look good in, and are using your closet as a toolbox, you can shop anywhere. It’s a personal preference. Just be mindful. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on basics. Fashion and style are for everyone.”

7) When to spend.

“Splurge on things that are timeless, like a handbag or a watch. Pick a beautiful accessory. If you get an item of clothing like a great blazer, make sure there’s a longevity to it, because you can wear it with different things.”

8) Know your trend.

“When you know what you look good in already, you can chose the trend that’s right for you. If there’s a trend out there that you like, figure out how to do it so that it works for you and your color. You never want to just go out and buy trendy items. The challenge is to know what you have to work with while knowing what you should camouflage. If you don’t love your legs, don’t wear short skirts. If you have a fab back, wear something backless. A lot of times trends are going to naturally happen, so when you see something while you’re shopping, just try it on.”

9) The one thing we should all stop doing.

“Wearing clothes that don’t fit. It’s so unflattering. When the clothes start to wear you and you’re not wearing the clothes, something isn’t working. Make sure your clothes fit. Take them to a tailor. Women especially are uncomfortable if they think clothes are too revealing.”

10) Pull yourself together every morning.

“People freak out in the morning because it messes with their confidence. They second guess themselves and spiral out. They haven’t taken the time to be conscious about it and stop and say ‘no, I’m going to take control and feel and look amazing.’ Take that time.”

11) Treat every day like you’re dressing for a big meeting.

“When people are getting dressed for a day that’s really important, they pull it together. They stop their lives, they take the time and they know it’s important. When it’s just a regular day, that’s when they get overwhelmed. You’re being seen everyday whether you want to be seen or not. There’s so many different levels, so much subtext in the workplace and a lot of politics to deal with. If you really put yourself together, it brings in a whole different experience to work. Think about the people who go the other direction, and look inappropriate.”

 

 

TIME royals

Prince George Checks Out a Butterfly in Cute New Birthday Photo

Prince George Of Cambridge First Birthday
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge holds Prince George as he points to a butterfly on Prince William, Duke of Cambridge's hand as they visit the Sensational Butterflies exhibition at the Natural History Museum on July 2, 2014 in London, England. John Stillwell—WPA/Getty Images

More official photographs of Prince George have been released, as the world gets ready to celebrate the young royal’s first birthday on Tuesday. The young prince, who was pictured walking on his own in a photo released last Saturday, appears with parents William and Kate during a visit to the “Sensational Butterflies” exhibit at London’s Natural History Museum.

Word is that the British heir will be feted at an intimate party held at Kensington Palace. What do you get the baby who (probably) has everything? Looks like he’s pretty happy with a butterfly.

TIME royals

Experience Andy Murray’s Wimbledon Loss Through This Kate Middleton GIF

The Duchess of Cambridge's upper lip was anything but stiff as the reigning Wimbledon champ lost in the quarter-finals

Getty Images (6); Gif by Adam Glanzman for TIME

The usually reserved royals betrayed their country’s stiff upper lip while watching Wimbledon’s reigning champion Andy Murray lose to Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals. The Duchess of Cambridge appeared quite animated during the match, pulling a variety of faces that show just how passionate she is about tennis.

Kate, whose family has already made several appearances at the Royal Box at Wimbledon this week, was clad in a white eyelet dress by Zimmerman, while William wore his usual uniform of pants, shirt and a jacket. She also donned a pair of stylish oversize shades with her tennis whites for the event.

The loss was quite a blow for the great Scot: Murray has made the semi-finals at the Grand Slam event every year since 2008.

 

TIME celebrity

Beyoncé and Jay Z Showed a Video From Their Secret Wedding Last Night

"On The Run Tour: Beyonce And Jay-Z" - Opening Night In Miami Gardens
Kevin Mazur—2014 Kevin Mazur

Bow down to the king and queen

Beyoncé and Jay Z gave the crowd at the first stop on their highly anticipated “On the Run” tour more to talk about than just the music Wednesday night.

The duo showed off a few very brief seconds of previously unseen footage from their 2008 wedding. You might have to watch the video a few times, but eagle-eyed fans will spot details from what looks like a relatively normal ceremony: the couple exchanges rings; Beyoncé sports a very traditional-looking white wedding dress and veil; and attendees cheer joyously when they walk down the aisle after the ceremony. Except everything was probably really, really expensive. And a lot of other celebrities were probably there. So maybe not like your wedding at all.

The couple has always been secretive about their union, but the video even offers a glimpse of the couple’s famous wedding ring “IV” tattoos. (The couple is obsessed with number four: Beyonce is born on Sept. 4, Jay Z’s birthday is Dec. 4, the couple married on April 4 and daughter Blue Ivy’s middle name sounds suspiciously like the number.)

As predicted, they also shared the stage for several songs, including “’03 Bonnie and Clyde,” their first hit together. What else happened? Each superstar wowed the crowd by delivering an epic solo set, chock-full of hits. Jay Z wore his usual uniform of highly tailored separates and some chains. And of course, Beyoncé donned some amazing costumes (including a spangly fishnet mask!) while bringing down the house. Just another day in the life for the family Carter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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