NEW YORK, United States, Friday December 12, 2014 – Every year Time magazine bestows the Person of the Year title to honour the individual or individuals who most influenced the news, for better or for worse, throughout the preceding 12 months.
This year, the real life super heroes, dubbed “The Ebola fighters” by Time, have been named the magazine’s Person of the Year 2014.
Making the announcement this week, Time’s Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs said the men and women who have been battling the worst outbreak of Ebola in history were chosen for their “exceptionally great amount of courage and kindness and bravery.”
Detailing Time’s reasons for its choice in an article in the magazine, Gibbs explained that this year, “an outbreak turned into an epidemic” across Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, before traveling to Europe and the US.
“Anyone willing to treat Ebola victims ran the risk of becoming one,” she wrote.
“But at a time when there seemed no end to the disease, which has killed 7,000 people in West Africa, a group stepped forward despite the dangers.
“The global health system is nowhere close to strong enough to keep us safe from infectious disease,” Gibbs continued. “The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight.
“For tireless acts of courage and mercy, for buying the world time to boost its defenses, for risking, for persisting, for sacrificing and saving, the Ebola fighters are TIME’s 2014 Person of the Year.”
Gibbs also unveiled five covers featuring Ebola warriors across West Africa, including doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers.
Medical missionary Dr Kent Brantly, an American Ebola survivor who contracted the virus while working with patients in Liberia, is featured on one of the covers.
“I think it’s fitting that we acknowledge that most Ebola fighters are themselves West Africans,” he said. “It’s an honour for me to have been considered part of that group.”
The covers also feature Foday Gallah, an ambulance driver who survived the infection, Médecins Sans Frontières nurse Salome Karwah and Dr Jerry Brown, a Liberian surgeon who turned his hospital’s chapel into the country’s first Ebola treatment centre.
This year’s runner up was another group with a common mission, the Ferguson Protesters, who “built a movement that revived a dormant national conversation about race and justice,” Time reported.
Taking third place was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who invaded Crimea this year and in doing so, restored Russia’s honour and saw his approval ratings soar, according to Time.
Putin was followed by Masoud Barzani, the acting president of the Iraqi Kurdish Region, and Jack Ma, who founded Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant that debuted a US$25 billion IPO this year – making it one of the world’s most valuable tech companies.
America’s singing sweetheart Taylor Swift was also in the final eight following her massive record sales and her battle with Spotify.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was also in the top eight after not only making headlines for the company’s new gadgets, but for his lifestyle, having become the first openly gay Fortune 500 CEO.
Also shortlisted was National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, whose league came under scrutiny over its handling of domestic abuse arrests of its players including Ray Rice.
Last year, the Pope narrowly beat pop star Miley Cyrus to the title for his transformative changes to the tone of the Catholic Church on social issues.