Janice Shaw Crouse

Among the few people who are recognized by just one name, Oprah probably stands out as the most recognizable – her magazine identifies her by a single initial. She has won multiple Emmy Awards for her daily television show, and she is rich beyond imagining. Forbes magazine identified her as the richest African - American of the 20th century and the world's only black billionaire. She has consistently ranked among America's 400 richest people.

Life magazine has ranked Oprah as the most influential woman of her generation. Time magazine describes her as one of only four people in history to have shaped both the 20th and 21st centuries. Both CNN and Time named Oprah "arguably the world’s most powerful woman." Vanity Fair magazine asserted that she "has more influence on the culture" than anyone except, perhaps, the Pope. A public poll in 2005 identified Oprah the "greatest woman in American history." Business Week ranked her as the greatest black philanthropist in American history.

Oprah founded the most successful start-up publication in history, O, the Oprah magazine; she co-founded a women's cable television network, Oxygen; she has co - authored five books; and she formed a production company, Harpo Productions. In addition, Oprah is an Academy Award-nominated actress and movie producer.

Beyond the financial success and the celebrity status, though, is a phenomenon for which there is little precedent. The cover story of the first Newsweek magazine of 2001 was "The Age of Oprah." The headline proclaimed, "She's changing more lives than ever." In 2002, Christianity Today wrote about "The Church of O," describing Oprah’s influence as a spiritual leader as "church - free spirituality."

Oprah centers her career on finding meaning for life's journey, and today, through her varied forums, she offers her make - it - happen - for - yourself philosophy to the pagan Post-Modern culture searching for meaning and direction. According to Newsweek, the purpose of O, the Oprah Magazine is to "encourage readers to revamp their souls the way Martha Stewart helps them revamp their kitchens."

Oprah's non - threatening, back - and - forth kind of conversation with celebrities and women across America and her transparent attitude toward her personal struggles with issues like childhood abuse and weight control have established an intimacy with her predominantly female audience of 14 million viewers and two million readers that goes beyond celebrity.

Oprah raised more than three million dollars for Katrina victims and used her Web site to help capture four accused child predators. Her Web site averages more than 100 million page views and more than three million users per month.

Janice Shaw Crouse

Janice Shaw Crouse is a former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush and now political commentator for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.
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