Barack Obama

Barack Obama earns second Time Person of the Year honour

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 December, 2012, 4:08am

Time magazine has named US President Barack Obama as its Person of the Year for 2012 - the second time it has accorded him the accolade.

Obama now not only has a reelection as America's first black president and a Nobel peace prize under his belt, but he beat fancied runners-up including brave Pakistani girls' rights activist Malala Yousafzai, to be enshrined again as Time's dominant personality of the year.

The venerable American news magazine put Obama on its cover, striking a thoughtful, statuesque pose, and said he deserved the honour as "the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America".

The magazine lauded Obama's campaigning prowess, noting he was the first president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt to win more than 50 per cent of the vote in two straight elections and the first president since 1940 to be re-elected despite a jobless rate above 7.5 per cent.

Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney soundly in last month's election to win a second four-year term, despite presiding over a chronic economic slump.

"In 2012, he found and forged a new majority, turned weakness into opportunity and sought, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union," said Time, which had named Obama Person of the Year in 2008 when he won his historic first presidential election.

Perhaps the most poignant alternative to Obama on Time's shortlist was Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who continued to campaign for the right to education after being shot by the Taliban. The others were Apple CEO Tim Cook, Egypt's post-revolutionary President Mohammed Mursi and atomic physicist Fabiola Gianotti.

Person of the Year, previously called "Man of the Year", acknowledges what the magazine considers the world's biggest newsmaker, or influential mover.

Since the tradition started in 1927, US presidents have systematically featured, as have big names like Microsoft's Bill Gates, but also more symbolic winners like "the protester" last year or "US scientists" in 1960.

In the past, Time has showed its editorial teeth by naming sinister figures - Adolf Hitler in 1938 and Joseph Stalin in 1939 and 1942. But since the leader of Iran's Islamist revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, graced the cover in 1979, the magazine has tended to shy from picks that might upset its mostly American readership.

Obama told Time: "The truth is that we have steadily become a more diverse and tolerant country that embraces people's differences and respects people who are not like us."