Oprah Not So Influential Anymore

She was once one of the world's most influential people and perhaps still is in many people's hearts but not to TIME magazine. It would appear that Oprah's woes continue to pile up this year. There is no denying that the world's first billionaire black woman will remain at the top of the richest people for quiet some time but her star power has declined considerably since she ended her popular talk show. 

TIME just announced its list of 100 Most Influential People in the World list and Oprah Winfrey who started her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in America in 2011 is not on it. 

OWN failed to resonate with viewers in American even when Oprah fired her COO and took over the reigns in an effort to boast ratings with her star power. 

The much publicized Rosie O'Donnel Show on the network had to be canned when it failed to live up to expectation. Her friend Gayle King also had to jump ship when ratings for the network continued dropping. 

TIME list as always showcases a typically eclectic mix of personalities, ranging from the rich and powerful, like financier Warren Buffett or US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake, to popular entertainers like Adele and Beyoncé.

The list, broken into moguls, breakouts, icons, pioneers and leader categories, is compiled by Time after an online poll of readers.

This year Time chose 38 women for the top 100, which was more than in previous years.

Although the list is still heavily US-centric, featuring popular Asian-American basketball player Jeremy Lin and politicians like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, it had 54 international names - the first time they outweighed the American contingent.

Those range from Pippa Middleton, sister of Prince William's wife Kate, to Samira Ibrahim, an Egyptian activist and sprinter Usian Bolt. 

Strangely even shadowy group of activist computer hackers Anonymous also earned a place, despite the list technically being for influential people. So why would Winfrey who still commands a lot of respect and power in the media world not even make the cut? 

Well, it would appear that Oprah's influence according to those who were involved in drafting this list lied in her talkshow. 

Oprah admitted this year that she had made a mistake by launching her network when she did. 

Few months ago she told the CBS This Morning show in America that her struggle with her new TV venture is similar to her South African school and that during starting both ventures she had moments where she wondered whether she wanted to continue.
''The idea of creating a TV network was a great idea; had I known it was this difficult, I might have done something else. I didn't think it was going to be easy bit if I had known then what I know now I might have made different choices. I can say that if I was writing a book about it, I would call the book 101 Mistakes.''
She said it was a mistake...
''launching when we weren't ready to launch – and doing that because we announced that we're going to do it. It is like having the wedding when you know you're not ready. Looking back I should have waited until I’ve actually finished The Oprah Winfrey Show.''
Interviewer Charlie Rose asked Oprah Winfrey how she felt about all the unflattering stories about her OWN network not being an instant success after being ''such an icon and when you could do no wrong''.
''There's something you have to know,'' Oprah Winfrey said.
''No matter what anyone writes about you – and I learned this when I was doing The Color Purple with Steven Spielberg. At the time he was on the cover of TIME and he said he wasn't going to read it. And I said 'How can you not read it? You're on the cover of TIME magazine.' And he said 'because if you believe all the good stuff, then you have to believe it when people write things which are not flattering.'
''So you're right,'' said Oprah Winfrey, ''I've live in this sort of glow – for the past 10 years at least – but the climb up was also not as easy which a lot of people don't remember. Last week I saw one headline which sort of knocked me off centre – a USA Today headline saying ''Oprah Winfrey not quite standing on her OWN'' and that was uurgh''.
Oprah Winfrey said she wouldn't give up. 
''I'm a very driven person. I believe I'm here to fulfil a calling. I'm a female, who's African American, who's been so blessed in this world. I will never quit. I will die in the midst of doing what I love to do and that is using my voice and using my life to try and inspire other people to live the best of theirs.'' 
Of all the stories about OWN not getting viewers fast enough she said ''it's just negative press''. ''Just  because a thing appears to not be doing well, because you've failed – and we haven't failed – because something fails, doesn't make you a failure. And when you know that, you can keep trying. Actually I feel better about OWN today than what I ever have. The most painful thing for me was to have to let people go. I had to lay off 30 people.''
''Our strategy for the channel is to now do what we should have done from the beginning, which is to build one show, one hour, one night at a time – and then move to the next night. I said from the beginning this channel can't be based upon me. It has to be based on my philosophy and my ideas. What I want to create and will create is a platform where people can come and not waste their time and where its always meaningful.'' 
''Two of my girls from The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa were competing in the United Nations Conference at Cornell this weekend – they were part of the South African debate team,'' said Oprah Winfrey.  
'To see girls who, five years ago, some of them carrying buckets of water on their head, now sitting at Cornell debating about Cambodian civil war is simply extraordinary. To keep running the school was also hard because lots of people said it wouldn't work, its 8 000 miles away, and there's times when I wanted to give up on that too. The payoff is having girls now – 100% of the first class – all going to colleges.''
Personally I love that Oprah is able to acknowledge her mistake and take all these negative press in her stride. It must have been a huge blow to staunch Oprah fans to read that she is not considered to be as influential anymore especially when the list includes people who have never done anything to help anyone.

Lists or no lists Oprah has made an indelible mark on not only the entertainment industry but all facets of our life here on this planet. For that she will always remain a role model, a mother, sister and a friend to a lot of people regardless of nationality, race, creed or religion. 

See full list with pictures HERE

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

List or not Oprah still has influence in my life and the lives of many other fans. Oprah is not a god and as a result not everything she attempts will be a resounding success. Her fans know that. It goes to show that people seem to thrive on all things negative, the fact that she's a black woman, a woman, who started a Network speaks volumes on how far we have come as a world. Why is that not celebrated? Why is it that other celebrities are allowed to err but when it's Oprah it's unacceptable? I know that Oprah is big news, in that case I understand

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