Every December, the people at TIME magazine choose the “Person of the Year,” who is described as “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.”
Two of the candidates for the 2014 honor were: the Ferguson, Missouri, protesters, “who took to the streets ... following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old by a white police officer;” and the Ebola caregivers, who are still fighting the biggest outbreak of the disease in history, which has so far claimed the lives of nearly 7,000 people in West Africa.
On Wednesday morning, editor Nancy Gibbs announced the Ebola fighters as their choice because “they risked and persisted, sacrificed and saved” during a year in which “an outbreak turned into an epidemic" around the world, striking “doctors and nurses in unprecedented numbers. ... Anyone willing to treat the disease's victims 'ran the risk of becoming one.'”
The Ferguson protesters came in second, a selection that quickly sent many supporters to the Internet to vent their anger and disappointment.
Former CNN analyst Roland Martin (@rolandsmartin) got the ball rolling on Twitter when he asked people who thought the protesters should have gotten the honor to “Weigh in now!”
“I think so, Roland,” @revbrown51 agreed, because “Ferguson is showing the world what democracy looks like" -- a dubious assertion at best.
“Pretty sure TIME probably didn't pick Ferguson protesters as people of the year because it would've been too 'risky,” @thenKTwrote asserted, and @DrewKerr agreed that selecting that group “would have required more balls.”
@sophsaproblem summarized many posters' feelings when she declared: “Ferguson protesters should have gotten that TIME cover” because “everybody's almost forgotten about Ebola already, but Ferguson has kept the public's attention for months.”
She added that the people around the nation are “actually working to change the world, and they're succeeding.”
“Succeeding?” the Twitchy staff asked incredulously before stating:
Well, if stopping traffic and looting are your metrics, than yes -- the protesters have won.
And as for Ebola as an old story, not really. ... Just because the media isn’t focused on Ebola doesn’t mean the problem went away. Thousands are still dying and at risk in Africa.
“Second is still pretty good,” the website staff added. “Or not.”
@Gerald Soetz simply called the selection “sad,” while @drmacia swore: “I'll never buy another TIME mag.”
However, other supporters of the Ferguson protesters saw the choice in a more positive light.
"Their refusal to let a life be forgotten turned a local shooting into a national movement,” stated @WesleyLowery, while @deray said he was “humbled” and “proud” even though there is “more work to do.”
“I love being in good company,” @Nettaaaaaaaaa noted before telling her “friends in the movement” that “I love yall.”
Meanwhile, several individuals claimed “It's about time TIME got it right,” as @KarenSL did.
@CHOWSTL said the magazine made a “better choice than Ferguson protesters,” and @fsolid declared it was “fantastic to see TIME recognize frontline health worker heroes fighting the Ebola outbreak.”
“People fighting a possible global pandemic deserve this,” @ericstamps stated while @AfroRhapsody indicated: “Both issues are important, but Ebola is a much greater threat to humanity. These Ebola fighters are risking their lives.”
Sadly, @KarenSL predicted: “No doubt this will cause new protests/riots from Ferguson protesters.”
Other candidates who were considered for the honor included Vladimir Putin, the Russian president who oversaw the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the annexation of Crimea, as well as ongoing civil strife in eastern Ukraine.
Also being considered was Taylor Swift, one of the world's top-selling singers; and Jack Ma, an English teacher who founded Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce giant.
Tim Cook, who introduced Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, was another finalist; as was National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell; and Masoud Barzani, the acting president of the Iraqi Kurdish Region who has combined the region's push for independence with the battle with ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
Previous choices for “Person of the Year” -- a tradition that began in 1927 -- have included popes John Paul II and Francis, every president and such bizarre picks as whistleblowers and protesters. Still, the most peculiar choice came in 2006, when “You” -- the millions of people who contribute to the World Wide Web -- were honored.
That issue's unusual cover featured a computer on a desk with a reflective surface in its screen so people could see themselves in the illustration.