President Barack Obama has been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for the second time, after winning another term in the White House in November.
The title is awarded by Time’s editors, and managing editor Richard Stengel wrote in an introductory editorial: “We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America.” The President is Person of the Year, Stengel went on, “for finding and forging a new majority, for turning weakness into opportunity and for seeking, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union”.
Public reaction to the announcement was mixed, with some on social media suggesting the President was a too-predictable choice, others that he was the inevitable one. The four runners-up were Tim Cook, the new CEO of Apple, whose predecessor, Steve Jobs, appeared on the magazine’s cover eight times, though never as Person of the Year; Mohamed Morsi, the new President of Egypt; Fabiola Gianotti, the particle physicist in charge of the search for the Higgs Boson particle; and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban for promoting education for girls in the region.
Aryn Baker, the magazine’s Middle East bureau chief, wrote of Yousafzai: “Since October her message has been heard around the world, from cramped classrooms where girls scratch out lessons in the dirt to the halls of the UN and national governments and NGOs, where legions of activists argue ever more vehemently that the key to raising living standards throughout the developing world is the empowerment of women and girls.”
North Korea’s Central News Agency, meanwhile, reported that this year’s Time title was, in fact, bestowed upon its country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, pictured. The official Person of the Year may be chosen by Time’s editors, but Kim topped a readers’ poll, after a campaign led by the prankster-hacker website 4chan brought him 5.6 million votes, three million more than his closest rival, comedian Jon Stewart.