After winning a landslide 70% of the vote, former US Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning is The Guardian‘s 2012 “Person Of The Year.” The winner is determined by a vote of the Guardian’s readers according to who they believe was the most important headline-maker of the year. Manning, of course, is the former Army intelligence analyst and whistle blower who exposed U.S. military secrets by releasing classified information to WikiLeaks–including the ‘Collateral Murder‘ video showing the killing of Reuters staffers and civilians from an Apache helicopter.
Even before the “Person Of The Year” announcement was made, however, questions arose about The Guardian‘s handling of the honor. First of all, the British newspaper delayed announcing the winner for 36 hours. WikiLeaks and Anonymous tweeted the outcome long before The Guardian released the results. Then, according to LeakSource, their article was “only a small blurb in the middle of their homepage” that “mentions nothing of Manning’s courage to do the right thing, revealing war crimes, or his treatment amounting to torture since being detained”.
Instead, the article talks mostly about the early frontrunner in the vote, Malala Yousafzai:
“It [the voting] was very much a game of two halves. The overwhelming majority of early votes in the three-day poll went to Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for defending girls’ right to education. Malala, who is still recovering from injuries sustained in October, had 70 percent of votes at the halfway stage with many readers predicting a foregone conclusion. ‘What that kid did really focussed the world on the evil that these men can do – and what evil all people can do when they feel inclined. But it also showed the courage to pull through and the will of others to not succumb to evil,’ wrote jamieTWC1.
“But in the latter stages, following a series of tweets from the @Wikileaks twitter handle telling followers to vote Manning, thousands of voters flocked to his cause. Manning secured 70 percent of the vote, the vast majority of them coming after a series of @Wikileaks tweets.”
The announcement had tweeters, bloggers, and WikiLeaks crying foul and pointing to what they see as an obvious bias of the publication toward Malala, for instance by featuring a large photo of her but not of any of the other nominees. LeakSource ends its objection with this message:
“To The Guardian: It wasn’t just a tweet, it wasn’t just WikiLeaks supporters that made Bradley Manning your 2012 Person of the Year, it was the awakened masses that value free speech, truth, peace, government transparency and accountability.”
“As a newspaper, as journalists, you should have voted for Bradley Manning too.”
“Shame on you Guardian.”