In the earliest stages of my journalism career, admiring Oprah’s accomplishments, wealth, and infamous domination of daytime television was natural. The talk queen was the ultimate shero for a millennial African-American woman with aspirations of leading an industry filled with men. Most of Oprah’s shoes were gorgeous and she strutted in those chic, classic pumps from a small Chicago television studio to the cover of Forbes without stumbling. Impressive.
Yes, Oprah’s career is the Holy Grail. She is a trailblazer, having built a billion-dollar empire around her individualized brand. CNBC even created the “Oprah Effect” based on her influence on popular culture and spending. Personal feelings aside, it is impossible (well, almost) to disrespect this bona-fide media powerhouse.
It was a huge surprise to learn OWN, her cable network, was struggling to launch into the stratosphere. Even with Sweetie Pies and spiritual life courses with the religious elite, tumultuous ratings resulted in the firing of 30 employees and the unexpected placement of Oprah at the helm of the media organization. OWN’s continuous decline in popularity, advertisers, and original content has critics doubting that the queen can reign at the top of the media world again.
I’ll admit that pessimistic attitudes are (somewhat) warranted here. I mean, the network is on life support, one failed attempt from being voted off our cable providers “network-in-demand” list. Even Oprah said:
“Had I known [creating a network] was this difficult, I might have done something else. If I knew then what I know now, I might have made different choices. If I were writing a book about it, I could call the book 101 Mistakes.”