The Ipsos Reid online poll of 1,038 adults conducted Dec. 8-10 for the Canwest News Service and Global TV found 49 percent of respondents felt Obama was the news star of the year after being sworn in as the first African-American president of the United States in January.
Jackson, who died in June at 50, was chosen by 30 percent of respondents, the pollster said.
Woods came in a distant third with seven percent after his marital problems and alleged philandering shifted his name from the sports pages to front pages.
Among others chosen as top newsmakers were Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper with three percent, Susan Boyle the Scottish singer discovered on "Britain's Got Talent," with two percent and former U.S. Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin with two percent, the report said.
The poll had a 3.1 percentage point margin of error, Ipsos Reid said.