Topic: College of Communication Information and Media

January 31, 2007

Time magazine broke with tradition when it selected "you" as its 2006 "Person of the Year."

But the magazine's unusual selection didn't surprise Ball State journalism professor David Sumner, who predicted Time might select Internet services Google, YouTube and MySpace for its yearly "Person of the Year" distinction. Sumner's prediction was one of four that won a national contest co-sponsored by Media Industry Newsletter and Time to guess the magazine's choice.

"I made that choice because I see firsthand what a communications revolution we are currently undergoing and how it affects each of us," said Sumner, who coordinates the journalism department's magazine program. "I don't think most people realize the scope and depth of it."

Since 1923, Time magazine has chosen its "Person of the Year," usually selecting someone who has most influenced the events of the preceding year.

Sumner explained that Time's choice of "you" was widely criticized; however, he felt it was valid because it signifies the leveling of the media playing field.

"There's an old saying in journalism that 'the power of the press belongs to those who own one,' meaning you once had to be rich to own and operate the printing press," he said. "Now I have just as much power and ease in communicating my thoughts to the world as the owners of The New York Times or CNN."

Ball State magazine journalism student Casi Owens agreed with Sumner's choice. A frequent user of networking media, she thinks the picks of Sumner and Time go hand in hand.

"I check and use YouTube everyday," Owens said. "I have a friend on there who posts videos just about everyday, and that is how I keep up with what he has been doing in his travels."

The four winners will receive a museum-quality framed print of any Time magazine cover dating back to 1923. Sumner chose the May 8, 2006, cover because it has mini-capsule pictures of Time's choices for the world's 100 most influential people.

"There was nothing sentimental or historic about my choice," he said. "I just thought it was an interesting cover that would make an interesting conversation piece on my wall."

By Jennifer Strempka