As the annual ritual of the ball drop at the Times Square in New York City on Monday ushering in celebrations on New Year's Eve is all set to go on time, it is different this year and dedicated to protecting press freedom and journalists.
On #newyearseve, the Ball will be raised at 6pm and shine throughout the night until the final countdown to 2019! #balldrop pic.twitter.com/8zgIlHKV7V
— Times Square (@TimesSquareNYC) December 30, 2018
Organizers of the event, Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment have named the event panel as the Committee to Protect Journalists, as a tribute to slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In addition, fighting fake news has taken the center-stage.
Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, said: "On New Year's Eve we look back and reflect on the major events of the past year, we look forward with a sense of hope, and we celebrate the people and things we value most... This year, we're celebrating the free press and journalism and those who work to protect, preserve and practice it."
The highly distinguished journalists who will join us @TimesSquareNYC for the 2019 #BallDrop are representatives of all journalists worldwide "who work hard every day to keep their communities informed and hold the powerful to account." @Joelcpj@murraymatt #CelebratePressFreedom pic.twitter.com/fMjBWNfPj2 — Committee to Protect Journalists (@pressfreedom) December 30, 2018
Making the event different from the past annual events, he said New Year's Eve should be a moment of reflection, besides being an occasion for celebrations. "New Year's is not just a celebration, but a moment of reflection. What are the big themes personally, or in the world for this past year?"
It may be recalled that even TIME Magazine has dedicated its "Person of the Year" to journalists who have been killed or persecuted around the globe, including Jamal Khashoggi.
Tonight's event at the Times Square is also hosting journalists from major media houses to the main stage for the "Special Guest" moment, a distinction reserved for the glitterati or prominent leaders in the past."#TimesSquare NYE will honor journalists this year with Special Guests @KarenAttiah, @RBlumenstein, Alisyn Camerota (@NewDay), @vladduthiersCBS, @efelsenthal, @LesterHoltNBC, @murraymatt, @MarthaRaddatz, @mariaressa, @JonScottFNC, @karentoulon," said a twitter message.
#TimesSquare NYE will honor journalists this year with Special Guests @KarenAttiah, @RBlumenstein, Alisyn Camerota (@NewDay), @vladduthiersCBS, @efelsenthal, @LesterHoltNBC, @murraymatt, @MarthaRaddatz, @mariaressa, @JonScottFNC, @karentoulon. Learn more: https://t.co/qfXpux3VfG. pic.twitter.com/N5xxvMZLd7
— Times Square (@TimesSquareNYC) December 29, 2018
2018 remains memorable as it heralded a new wave of anti-media tirade under US President Donald Trump, whose oft-repeated term 'fakenews' has stuck to many media outlets. Also, the killing of Khashoggi and the deadly shooting in June at the Capital Gazette newsroom impacted the decision of Times Square Alliance to decide to honor journalists at the Crossroads of the World on New Year's Eve.
As a part of the theme, a report was released listing 251 journalists, who are currently imprisoned around the world, and 28 of them imprisoned on false charges. "Americans are united in their belief that press freedom and independent journalism are at the heart of our democracy," said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
New York Ball Drop 2018 - watch online live:
The official Times Square website will start streaming the event from 5 pm on December 31 and Earth Cam will also provide live streaming for people at home.
As every year, ABC will broadcast from 8 pm. The countdown will begin at 11:59 pm.
For live streaming online option, here are the quick links:
On a lighter side, NYPD has issued a Transit Alert saying, "Starting Monday, 12/31, exits to street level at Times Sq-42 St are subject to closure. To exit to street level for the 1/2/3/N/Q/R/W/S/7 please exit at 42nd St-Port Authority (8th Ave) via the passage way."
The Sino American Friendship Association (@us_safa) said they will be welcoming the new year with a Dragon Dance.
Learn more about the city of Chongqing with the Sino American Friendship Association (@us_safa) as they will be helping us ring in the new year with a Dragon Dance that hails from a district in Chongqing - an international city that is also surrounded by natural landscapes. pic.twitter.com/DMagEG0EnV — Times Square (@TimesSquareNYC) December 31, 2018".