Ideas
December 13, 2021 7:39 AM EST
Edward Felsenthal is the Editor-in-Chief and CEO of TIME.

In her profile of our 2021 Entertainer of the Year Olivia Rodrigo, my colleague Lucy Feldman made an observation that jumped out at me. Rodrigo, the 18-year-old pop sensation whose music has won over audiences of all ages, “has a gift for picking the best of the past,” Lucy notes, “and finding just the right way to situate it in the present.”

It’s a theme that resonates throughout this issue. Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of all time and our Athlete of the Year, took sports and the world forward in 2021 by using her spotlight at the Tokyo Olympics to stand up for mental health, and making sure athletes are measured by more than their wins and losses. The miracle of fast and effective vaccines that saved millions of lives from COVID-19 was the work of so many scientists over so many years that we created a new category to recognize them, Heroes of the Year. The mRNA vaccines available today are built on the pioneering insights of the past—and will become the breakthroughs of tomorrow. Even Elon Musk’s spacefaring adventures are a direct line from the very first Person of the Year (then called Man of the Year), Charles Lindbergh, whom the editors selected in 1927 to commemorate his historic first solo transatlantic airplane flight over the Atlantic.

Elon Musk sits for a portrait at the SpaceX facility in Boca Chica, Texas on Dec. 3, 2021.
Elon Musk sits for a portrait at the SpaceX facility in Boca Chica, Texas on Dec. 3, 2021.
Kelia Anne photographs Olivia Rodrigo in L.A. on Nov. 22, 2021.
Kelia Anne photographs Olivia Rodrigo in L.A. on Nov. 22, 2021.

For us at TIME, it has also been a year of building on the past to forge the future. We developed, like so many of you, a new hybrid approach to work as many of us now ping back and forth between our virtual and physical offices. We continued to expand our TIME100 franchise with TIME100 Companies and a new series of TIME100 Talks. We returned to live events with a gathering in Glasgow for COP26 that brought together climate-change leaders from around the globe. We created a special project on racial justice, Visions of Equity, led by staff of color in our newsroom. We helped lead our industry into the next phase of the Internet with TIMEPieces, an NFT platform for artists. We expanded our digital offerings, with more than 100,000 of you now supporting our journalism by subscribing for full access to our site. And our two-year-old Emmy-winning TIME Studios division continued to create new homes for our journalism, with more than 20 film and television projects set to air on leading streaming services and networks.

Time staff meet virtually to discuss the Person of the Year special issue.
Time staff meet virtually to discuss the Person of the Year special issue.

Person of the Year is for us a powerful capstone to the work of the previous 12 months. The process began in early fall, as it always does, with a gathering of our global staff to debate various nominations. But this year we had an inspiring addition: we were joined at the kickoff by 2018 Person of the Year Maria Ressa, the journalist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 for her fearless reporting in the Philippines.

The ambition of the franchise has grown considerably since Lindbergh graced the cover and has become an incredible staffwide effort, touched in some way by nearly everyone at TIME. The core project is the work of an editorial committee that includes Naina Bajekal, Jenna Caldwell, Elizabeth Murray and Victor Williams and led by executive editor Ben Goldberger. “We spent a lot of time thinking about the year through the lens of re-emergence and re-evaluation,” says Ben, “which made it a particularly fascinating process.”

All of us at TIME thank you for being a part of the TIME family and wish you and your loved ones the best for 2022.

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Contact us at letters@time.com.

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