TIME’s Person of the Year: Tim Cook is one of 4 runners up by Philip Elmer-DeWitt @FortuneMagazine December 19, 2012, 3:59 PM EST E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons Cook. Photo: Marco Grob for Time. FORTUNE — Having participated as a Time Magazine editor in my share of Person of the Year selections (I edited the David Ho cover and wrote at least one Steve Jobs “also ran” item), I knew how hard it was going to be for the magazine not to make Barack Obama — winner of the Presidential election that dominated the news for most of the year — Time’s 2012 POY. And I wasn’t entirely surprised to learn Tuesday that the editors had put Apple’s AAPL new CEO on its short list of eight finalists — along with Yahoo’s YHOO Marissa Mayer, Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi, CERN’s Fabiola Gianotti (of Higgs Boson fame) and four others. Variety of region, gender and the surprise factor weigh heavily in the editorial winnowing process. But I didn’t expect Tim Cook — a bland fellow largely unknown outside the circle of Apple AAPL watchers — to make it into the magazine as one of four runners up. Yet there he is, accompanied by an 2,500-word Lev Grossman essay that begins: “Tim Cook has the decidedly nontrivial distinction of being the first CEO of Apple since the very first to come to power without blood on his hands.” The three-part piece is titled Tim Cook: The Technologist, and it’s available online.