In a year of leaks and floods, protest and revolution, brutal dictators and declining media barons, sporting achievements and fond farewells, media scandals and shock-jockery, ground-breaking journalism and celebrity obsession, carbon and cattle and weddings and WikiLeaks, who rises above as the person of the year? And which of the headline grabbers in 2011 was the worst?

From Monday, Crikey presents its annual awards. Our experts will pick the best of the best across politics and government, media, business and culture. But it’s up to you to crown the best and worst of humanity this year — voting is now open for the Crikey Person of the Year Award and the Crikey Arsehat of the Year Award.

We’ve trawled the year that was, surveyed the constituents and debated those who made the biggest contribution, for better or worse. We’ve ditched the local pollies — your love/hate relationship with Julia and Tony was getting a little predictable. Instead, we’ve looked further field for the leaders, players and stars that really shaped 2011. We present our top 10 …

CRIKEY PERSON OF THE YEAR

  • Julian Assange: Governments aren’t fans, and legal questions remain, but the WikiLeaks founder is a hero to many.
  • Mohamed Bouazizi: The Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire and became a catalyst for the Tunisian revolution.
  • Nick Davies: The News of the World scandal would never have got to the public inquiry stage without his relentless Guardian reports.
  • Cadel Evans: Did what no Australian has done before — won the gruelling Tour de France
  • Sarah Ferguson: A gold Walkley is testament to a year of outstanding Four Corners reports, including the ground-breaking cattle exports story.
  • Ryan Gosling: The Hollywood star is everywhere. And pretty hot.
  • Steve Jobs: His enduring legacy in charge of Apple is probably in your hand right now.
  • Simon McKeon: The 2011 Australian of the Year for his extensive philanthropy work.
  • Brian Schmidt: The Australian shared a Nobel Prize in physics for proving the expansion of the universe is accelerating.
  • Lyn White: The Animals Australia spokesperson was the public face of the campaign against live animal exports.

Other contenders: John Bean; Andrew Bolt; Quentin Bryce; Tim Flannery; Alex Greenwich; Anna Hazare; Shaima Jastaina; Paul Lockeyer; Bradley Manning; Bob McGuire; Pippa Middleton; Bruce and Denise Morcombe; Jordan Rice; Sathya Sai Baba; Glenn Stevens; Sam Stouser; Gary Ticehurst; Michael Woodley.

CRIKEY ARSEHAT OF THE YEAR

  • Bashar al-Assad: The Syrian president is one of the last remaining Arab dictators, and one of its most brutal.
  • Anders Breivik: His politically motivated rampage killed 77 people when he blew up an Oslo building and fired on a youth camp.
  • Rebekah Brooks: Plenty of villains in the News of the World saga, but the former editor and News International chief’s denials of knowledge were the most unlikely.
  • Harold Camping: The US preacher captivated the media with his predictions of a May 21 doomsday. It didn’t happen.
  • Muammar Gaddafi: The brutal dictator with a creepy Condi Rice fetish was hunted down and killed after revolution swept Libya.
  • Kim Kardashian: We’re not sure what she does. But she didn’t ever go away.
  • Hosni Mubarak: The Egyptian president — on murder charges for his crackdown on protesters — stood in the way of reform until being forced from office in February.
  • Kyle Sandilands: Name your scandal in 2011. The less said about the radio shock jock the better.
  • Charlie Sheen: The wayward sitcom star dominated the news cycle for far too long after his public meltdown.
  • Dominique Strauss-Kahn: The former IMF head escaped s-xual assault charges but proved himself nothing less than a creep.

Other contenders: Zine el Abidine Ben Ali; Julian Assange; Anthony Ball; Bali boy; Osama bin Laden; Rebecca Black; Andrew Bolt; Ryan Gosling; Derryn Hinch; Liz Hurley; Alan Jones; Alan Joyce; Kate Middleton; James Murdoch; Rupert Murdoch; Conrad Murray; Ricky Nixon; Gina Rinehart; Jerry Sandusky; Arnold Schwarzenegger; Michael Smith; Donald Trump; Shane Warne; Paul Whittaker; Oprah Winfrey; Prince William.

And your job doesn’t end there. The Crikey Christmas tradition of naming our s-xiest politicians continues — vote now and tell us who in Canberra sets your heart racing. We’ll announce the winners of our people’s choice awards next Friday.

Vote early and vote often (actually, just vote once).

Peter Fray

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