Now that we know that Liz McCartney is the 2008 CNN Hero of the Year, it’s time to start reflecting on the selection process. One issue that easily comes to my mind is the unfairness of the web based popular vote method used in declaring the winner. I am not saying this because my compatriot, Marie da Silva, did not win. I am also not trying to suggest that Liz was not the deserved winner. All the ten nominees are special people and their works are phenomenal.
But the popular vote was not the best way for selecting the winner as it gave an upper hand to nominees from richer countries such as USA where a lot of people can readily access the Internet. Even my own compatriot, Marie, because of her Los Angeles connection, had an upper hand compared to the likes of Yohannes Gebregeorgis from Ethiopia and Phymean Noun from Cambodia.
To make matters worse, the voting system did not put any limits on the number of times one could vote. I think CNN was using this exercise as a way of boosting traffic to their website. It was very unfair as it made it very easy for people with good Internet connections to call, email one another and set up voting networks for their man or woman. With these kind of developments, it was very easy for a US based nominee like Liz McCartney to carry the day.
My advice to CNN as they start planning for the 2009 episode is that they must borrow a leaf from the way FIFA selects the world footballer of the year .Voting should be restricted to a group of professional people from all over the world.