PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma beat headline grabbers such as ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, World Cup winning Springbok Joost van der Westhuizen and 800 metre gold medallist Caster Semenya to be named the 2009 Newsmaker of the Year.
National Press Club chairperson Yusuf Abramjee said Zuma, in his first 10 months in office, had engaged the media more than any of his predecessors.
"We are of the view that President Zuma has granted more open interviews and engaged the media far more than any of his predecessors.
"This is a good sign for our democracy and it also shows that he truly is the people's president," Abramjee said.
Zuma first won the same accolade in 2005. At the time, implicated in a fraud and corruption case involving his friend and former financial adviser Shabir Shaik, Zuma was the subject of a much-publicised probe by the now defunct Scorpions Unit.
"There was much discussion as to who made headlines almost every day last year. President Zuma was in the news for various reasons throughout 2009.
"He dominated the centimetre column space in the print media and much of the airwaves in the electronic media. This award is made on the grounds of impact, news value and media attention," Abramjee said.
All South African presidents since FW de Klerk's tenure had been awarded the same honour.
"2009 was Zuma's year. He was on the election campaign trail for months. Then corruption charges against him were withdrawn, sparking much discussion and debate," Abramjee said
"Zuma made surprise visits to areas affected by service delivery protests, launched the Presidential hotline, announced his choice for the appointment of a new Chief Justice and the National Police Commissioner."
Meanwhile, Monitoring SA reported that Zuma was mentioned 22300 times in SA print media, about 33000 times in the broadcast media and more than 12500 times in online media during 2009.