TV Guide’s Chloe Tse article dated 05-27-2008 reports tremors in Oprah’s media empire.
According to TV Guide Winfrey’s new-age spiritualism and political persuasion is jeopardizing her marketability in the media, thereby diminishing her status.
Perhaps Winfrey’s longtime reign over the media is coming to an abrupt end. For so long revered as nearly a saint because of her uplifting programming, Oprah is now beginning to receive criticism for her views. It has often been said that one should not talk about their religion and politics. Oprah is defying the odds and daring to do both.
I salute her for her authenticity and boldness to express her individuality. Yet doing so is simultaneously hurting her marketability. Nevertheless on the flip side of that argument, we do well to remember that controversy does sell. Who knows the queen of TV could remake herself into an activist for worthy causes and a voice against social injustice. Nobody can dispute Oprah has done and is doing a lot of good in the world. And with such influence why shouldn’t she let her voice be heard?
The New York Times says Oprah’s choices are gaining skepticism and audiences are tuning out. According to Nielson Media Research, for the third straight year in a row, Oprah is experiencing a decline in audience viewers.
Research shows Oprah’s program has dropped 7% of its viewers this year alone. Oprah’s other projects also seem to be suffering. For example her reality show Oprah’s Big Give debuted this winter with a huge audience and beat every program on television except for American Idol, but also experienced the loss of almost a third of its audience.
Winfrey’s readership of O her magazine, which you would think to have increased with the nonstop promotion of Tolle’s book, suffered a beating and loss of 10% over the last 3 years according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Even Oprah’s favorite and highly promoted books in her book club are suffering harsh criticism. Apparently Oprah either didn’t adequately study the demographics of her viewers, or disregarded her viewers beliefs altogether. Women in the deep south who heavily watch Oprah’s program are typically Christian and many supporters of Senator Hillary Clinton. Hence Oprah has cut her own throat by alienating Christendom with her new age books and shows, while simultaneously disenchanting white women when she endorsed Barak Obama for President.
As a Christian who read “A New Earth” and found it a in meaningful book, I understand both how Oprah feels and religious folks who don’t play around with their faith. Certainly not all Christians can eat the fish and spit out the bones when reading spiritual truths originating from another ideological orbit. Politically Americans aren’t very tolerant or understanding either, as evidenced by the great political divide in our country between Republicans and Democrats.
I commend Oprah for being true to what she believes in and bold enough to share what she thinks will empower people to live better lives. Her intentions and motives are certainly pure. If Oprah were solely money motivated, she would not continue to promote her spiritual and political views. Yet being already established financially, Oprah is embarking upon larger more meaningful missions to change the world. O Ambassadors is just one new endeavor Oprah is partnering with Free the Children to liberate and educate kids worldwide.
Hopefully Oprah who says she is a Christian will not find problems with parents concerned about their children getting sold new-age ideas. I think Oprah is doing a great work and deserves our support. Yet at the same time we who have beliefs of our own should not be any less vocal than Oprah.
Anything worth having in life requires a sacrifice. For Oprah it is a drop in viewer ratings, book sales, and magazine distribution. Nevertheless the rewards of the sacrifice should be sufficient to warrant the losses. Often we must first be willing to lose in order to win.
It cannot be disputed that ultimately we attract what we are. We cannot please everyone and succeed. We are at our best when we are true to ourselves and transparent about it. That Oprah is and that is why we love her.
Beyond touching hearts and putting tears in our eyes, Oprah also makes people think. Now raising eyebrows and making us scratch our heads, Oprah is finding herself as she further evolves. She recently said on her program that she admits to not having enough time to truly enjoy herself. Perhaps as Oprah becomes more present and lets go of the ambition of sustaining her empire, critics will be silenced and her true spirit will emerge in purity untainted from the labels many have tried to presumptuously give her.
Dividing audiences is not always a bad thing as even the Word of God itself divides, while exposing our hearts (see Hebrews 4:12). Although Oprah’s television audience is predominately middle-aged white women who support Senator Hillary Clinton, most Americans are awaking to the reality that we need some color in the White House to truly get real and heal the homeland.
Angry criticism of new-age spiritualism and political disputes though a common message thread on the message boards from her website, Oprah will continue to transcend the accusations and come out on top as she honors the God of truth. Love rejoices in the truth and we should do no less.
Next up for Oprah is OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. featuring programming that will reflect Winfrey’s vision of what she considers empowering programming.
You can’t go wrong when you touch, teach, and transform your audience.
It’s not about being the queen of the media as much as it is about living a meaningful life of purpose to impact humanity.
Paul F Davis - international speaker and author
Paul F. Davis is a world-changing leadership & diversity speaker who has touched over 50 countries & 6 continents building bridges cross-culturally and empowering people throughout the earth to live their dreams!
Paul is the author of 14 books. Paul has appeared on numerous internationally broadcast radio shows from Oprah & Friends to Fox News Radio to talk about conflict resolution, peacemaking, foreign policy, and diplomacy. Playboy Radio host Tiffany Granath calls Paul an “awesome” relational coach and recommends his books on love, dating, and sexuality.
Academically outstanding Davis was trained in transformative mediation & conflict resolution (Hofstra Law School); strategic negotiations (Harvard Business School & U. of Washington); advanced interrogation (Reid & Associates founders of the polygraph); and NLP & Life Coaching (NLP & Coaching Institute of California).
Paul humorously and elegantly transforms individuals and organizations.
Paul’s organization Dream-Maker Inc. builds dreams, transcends limitations, & reconciles nations.
Paul worked at Ground Zero in NYC during 9/11; helped rebuild a home at the tsunami epicenter; comforted victims of genocide in Rwanda; spoke to leaders in East Timor during the war; inspired students & monks in Myanmar; promoted peace & reconciliation in Pakistan; and has been so deep into the bush of rural Africa where villagers had never before seen a white man.
Paul empowers people to love passionately and live fearlessly.