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Video: Time’s Person of the Year revealed

TIME magazine
TODAY.com
updated 12/14/2011 8:04:42 AM ET 2011-12-14T13:04:42

Time magazine revealed the 2011 choice for its iconic Person of the Year cover live on TODAY Wednesday. The Protester is this year’s choice, managing editor Rick Stengel told Matt Lauer and Ann Curry.

“There was a lot of consensus among our people,” Stengel told the TODAY anchors as he revealed the magazine’s cover. “It felt right.”

As it has for the past 84 years, the weekly newsmagazine selected the person (or sometimes group, or thing) that its editors deemed had the single greatest impact during the past year, for better or for worse.

Time’s Person of the Year has been a perennial topic of year-end debate ever since aviator Charles Lindbergh was chosen the first Man of the Year back in 1927 (the title was amended to Person of the Year in 1999). But the title is not necessarily an accolade; while many presidents, political leaders, innovators and captains of industry have been cited, some of the more notorious Persons of the Year include Adolf Hitler in 1938, Joseph Stalin in 1943 and Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. There have also been more conceptual choices, such as “the American Fighting-Man” (1950), “Middle Americans” (1969), and this year’s choice, The Protester.

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Slideshow: Time Persons of the Year 1999-2013 (on this page)

Other candidates
Polled online earlier this week, hundreds of TODAY.com readers came up with many other nominees for 2011, including late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and SEAL Team 6, who killed Osama bin Laden.

“Gabrielle Giffords is in the magazine,” Stengel pointed out when Lauer mentioned the support for her and Jobs. "Steve Jobs is in the beginning of our Farewell section.” (The Farewell section spotlights the most noteworthy deaths of the year.)

Via Facebook, TODAY.com reader April Merenda said Jobs should be the choice “to make up for (Time) not getting it right in 1984 as well as acknowledging his contribution to our global society and generations to come.” Reader ririjam suggested “the three women who just won the Nobel Peace Prize” or first lady Michelle Obama, who “has maintained grace and dignity.”

Video: TIME’s editor explains magazine's Person of the Year choice (on this page)

And Time conducted its own poll last month, offering a list of 34 candidates that ranged from prominent political leaders to pop culture icons. Time’s list included Casey Anthony, Herman Cain, Kim Kardashian, Steve Jobs, and such movements and groups as “The 99%” (and “The 1%”), and the international hacking collective Anonymous.

Time also revealed the runners-up for 2011 Person of the Year on its website, Time.com. Coming in No. 2 on the list is Admiral William H. McRaven, who organized the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden in May (a choice similar to the popular TODAY.com nominee SEAL Team 6).

The No. 3 choice is Ai Wei Wei, the Chinese conceptual artist and activist who helped design Beijing National Stadium for the 2009 Olympics — and was held incommunicado for 81 days and interrogated some 50 times by Chinese authorities last spring and summer while supporters around the world petitioned for his release.

Slideshow: Why "The Protester" received the Person of the Year award (on this page)

No. 4 on Time’s list is Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican whom the magazine credits with bringing to the front of the national consciousness an issue that Washington was loath to confront: America’s ballooning national debt.

And coming in No. 5: Duchess Kate. Having captured the attention and affection of millions, the magazine says, the former Kate Middleton is now “poised to reinvent celebrity with restraint.”

“Admiral McRaven captured bin Laden, and the Duchess of Windsor captured our hearts,” Stengel commented on TODAY. Still, he added, “It’s not a lifetime achievement award.”

So in the end, it was the image of The Protester — summarizing mass actions against dictators in the Middle East, anti-drug cartel sentiment in Mexico, marches against unaccountable leaders in Greece, the America-spawned Occupy movement, and dissent from the Putin regime in Russia — that appeared on Time’s 2011 Person of the Year cover.

“There’s this contagion of protest,” Stengel said on TODAY Wednesday. “These people who risked their lives... I think it is changing the world for the better.”

Read more about the Time Person of the Year at Time.com. Follow @Time on Twitter for more on #POY2011.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Photos: Time Persons of the Year 1999-2013

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  1. 2013: Pope Francis

    A look at the Time magazine Person of the Year covers from the past decade reveals an eclectic mix: choices have ranged from presidents to whistleblowers, even "You." This year Pope Francis took the title.

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  2. 2012: Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama was TIME magazine’s iconic Person of the Year in 2012. “He’s basically the beneficiary and the author of a kind of a New America, a new demographic," TIME managing editor Rick Stengel said.

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  3. 2011: The Protester

    Symbolizing a worldwide wave of dissent that swept from the Arab Spring to Athens, the Occupy Wall Street movement to anti-autocracy demonstrators in the streets of Moscow, The Protester summarized a year of turmoil.

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  4. 2010: Mark Zuckerberg

    More than half a billion people on the planet live in a world created by Mark Zuckerberg. The good news is, their friends all live there too. Zuckerberg founded the social networking site Facebook in his college dorm in 2004, but 2010 was the year that Facebook reached critical mass, both in sheer quantity of users and in its presence all over the web.

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  5. 2009: Ben Bernanke

    After weathering one of the worst financial storms in U.S. history, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, won 2009's title because of his influence on the world's most important economy.

    “He was the great scholar of the Depression who saw another depression coming, and did everything he could to stop it,” said Time's managing editor, Richard Stengel.

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  6. 2008: Barack Obama

    A look at Time magazine's Person of the Year covers over the past decade reveals an eclectic mix reflecting the temper of the times: Choices have ranged from presidents to whistleblowers to "You."

    In 2008, Time's editors chose the man who had just won a historic election: Barack Obama.

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  7. 2007: Vladimir Putin

    In 2007, Time editors chose "the man who tamed Russia," President Vladimir Putin. The issue included an interview with Putin about corruption, religion and the war in Iraq.
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  8. 2006: "You"

    Time's 2006 Person of the Year was one of its most controversial choices: "You." The computer-screen cover was meant to stress the increasing importance of the World Wide Web and its users, "citizens of the new digital democracy."

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  9. 2005: Bill Gates, Bono, Melinda Gates

    Three faces made it onto the 2005 Persons of the Year cover: Good Samaritans Bono and Bill and Melinda Gates were cited for their global efforts "to end poverty, disease and indifference."

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  10. 2004: George W. Bush

    In 2004, American voters returned George W. Bush to the White House for a second term. Time magazine acknowledged the event by returning Bush to Person of the Year status, which he had previously attained in 2000.

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  11. 2003: The American Soldier

    2003 was the year the U.S. invaded Iraq, and that December, Saddam Hussein was captured. Those events were key in Time's decision to honor the American soldier as the Person of the Year.

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  12. 2002: The Whistleblowers

    In a year when corporate scandals dominated the headlines, three women made it to the Persons of the Year cover: Cynthia Cooper, who exposed phony bookkeeping at WorldCom; Coleen Rowley, whose office tried to call the FBI's attention to Zacarias Moussaoui, lated indicted as a Sept. 11 co-conspirator; and Sherron Watkins, who warned of improper accounting at Enron.

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  13. 2001: Rudy Giuliani

    As the mayor of New York City during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack that changed America forever, Rudy Guiliani stood tall as an inspirational leader. Time called him “America’s homeland security boss” and a “gutsy decision-maker.”

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  14. 2000: George W. Bush

    The election that made “pregnant chads” and “recount” part of Americans’ household conversations ended bitterly, with George W. Bush winning the presidency without the popular vote. With his promise to unite the country as the 43rd president, Bush also won the title of Time's Person of the Year.

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  15. 1999: Jeff Bezos

    It’s easy to forget that there was life before online shopping. At the end of the millennium, it was Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, who ushered in the future of retail. Time selected him Person of the Year in 1999, and at 35, he was the fourth-youngest to ever receive the honor.

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  1. TIME
    Above: Slideshow (15) Time Persons of the Year 1999-2013
  2. Image: BESTPIX  Cairo Tense As Preparations Continue For Elections
    Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
    Slideshow (44) Protests continue in Egypt
  3. Image: A photo said to show people gathering during recent days' unrest in Benghazi, Libya. The content, date and location of the image could not be independently verified.
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