Time‘s Stengel Explains Bernanke Choice For Person Of The Year

personoftheyear.jpgTime magazine’s managing editor Richard Stengel has had a busy day. He was at the “Today” show first thing in the morning to announce this year’s Person of the Year (it’s Ben Bernanke if you haven’t already heard) and then he spent the rest of the day talking to various news outlets about the choice. We got a chance to ask him, too, why Bernanke?

“It’s a way of telling a larger story,” Stengel explained. “One of the things I like for Time to do is take some very large and complex issue and explain it for readers. And in a way, that is what Mike Grunwald’s story does. When you learn something as a reporter or writer, the first thing you want to do is explain it to someone, and that’s the tone of the whole article. I really like that for our readers and I think people will get a lot out of it. For me, Bernanke was the best vehicle to talk about the largest, most macroeconomic issues.”

But what about the Twitter guys, who were so popular among the speakers at the Time Person of the Year debate last month?

“The Twitter thing came on strong there,” Stengel said of the debate. “And we did really think about it, but we had done a story on them a little but earlier and because we did “You” and user-generated content a few years ago [as Person of the Year] I felt like we had kind of covered that territory a bit.”

Still, the economy is kind of gloomy, and Bernanke, as the head of the American financial regulator, seems too domestic a choice. Why not go with something more peppy, like record-breaking runner Usain Bolt or something more international like “the Chinese worker”? Stengel argued that Bernanke represented a very international issue, making him the perfect choice for Time‘s Person of the Year.

“One of the things that he did during this past year was coordinate — for the first time in history — an organized rate cut with six central banks in America, Europe and Asia,” Stengel said. “We were ground zero for the economic meltdown, so that everything that the U.S. did had a really outsized impact on economies around the world….We caused it so we had to cure it.”

And speaking of econmies, Stegel boasted that ad pages in Time‘s Person of the Year issue are up 41 percent from last year. Not a bad way to end this challenging year that saw many magazines, including Time, struggling. Said Stengel: “We’re having a really successful year and an excellent fourth quarter.”

Previously: Time Names Bernanke Person Of The Year