Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Eternal Question: Is Oprah a Journalist?

OPRAH WINFREY CELEBRATED THE start of the 24th season of her show by shutting down Michigan Avenue and throwing a party for the city of Chicago. An estimated 20,000 people showed up.

The question I have for you is this: Is Oprah, a celebrated host of a program where she interviews people, an actual, real-live journalist? (Go ahead and factor in her magazine).

Or is Oprah, who frequently interviews movie stars around the time they have new films out, simply an entertainer?

Can she be both, an entertainer and a journalist?

(BTW, the image above is from the Chicago Tribune. If you're interested, they have 77 other pictures online, plus video).

30 comments:

Gabby Ryan said...

yea i would consider Oprah both a journalist and an entertainer. Not only does she report on movie stars, but she also reports on real life issues that effect everyday people like us such as anarexia and bad parenting. So yea she is still a journalist. She just gets the news across in an entertaining way.

Sam Thomas said...

How can she be a journalist if everything she does is done to advance a political agenda? This is not to say that she doesn't bring attention to important issues, but she is not a journalist.

Aleks Molnar said...

In my opinion, Oprah's political agenda outweighs her humanitarian efforts and stories. I cannot accept her as a legitimate journalist, but merely a very well-off entertainer.

Don Hoegg said...

If Oprah's a journalist, she's not a very good one. She tends to have not-too-qualified "experts" on her show and try to pass off their pseudo-science off as fact (I'm referring to whoever that doctor is who rants about hormone therapy. Dr. Oz?)

A journalist is only as trustworthy as her sources.

Mike Brady said...

Oprah is merely an entrepreneur. Her success shows she knows what people want to watch and read. Most of the interviews on her show are plugs for something. I doubt Oprah is trying to give people some form of news. If anything, she is pushing her views on all her viewers telling them, "Buy this! Try that!"

Nancy Arroyo said...

Oprah Winfrey is not a journalist. She just knows what the public likes and so she gives it to them. She is just an entertainer and a very rich lady who gives out free things on her show. (I hope to be on one of the give-away shows one day). She is more of an entrepreneur who focuses on what people want to hear and see and what they will enjoy.

Colin McWilliams said...

I think that Oprah is both an entertainer and a journalist. Oprah will frequently air her shows from distant locations and whenever big events occur she is always on sight shooting her show and reporting back on what information she has gathered. This would qualify her in my book as a journalist. Now we all know Oprah has her fun, she brings in celebrities and other well known people to ask the questions everyone wants to ask and she also has those shows where entertainers come and perform. Oprah is also an entertainer. She is a crowd pleaser who plays both the journalist and the entertainer role.

Tracy said...

I would not call her latest work journalism. Yes, she does do the occasional segment on anorexia but she is not a journalist in terms of the watchdog. In my opinion, Oprah has become such a celebrity that she lost her credibility as a journalist.

Fatia said...

HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL YES OPRAH IS A JOURNALIST!!!!!!!...first off she started ot in journalism and got her big break in the early 90's before that she was an anchor of the Baltimore News!!

Sarah Scholl said...

Depending on how much research Oprah does on the stories and topics covered on her show is the determining factor for me. I know she is a busy women so I doubt she is doing much if any of the bookwork for her segments.

Sydney Taylor said...

Oprah is definitely a journalist, not only does she bring to surface what interests people (celebs, fashion trends, etc) but she also has some serious segments that people should be aware of (abuse, random kidnappings, etc).

Since when did becoming a journalist mean SERIOUS SERIOUS SERIOUS topics all the time? Boring!

Plus, isn't journalism a BUSINESS as well, without her witty banter, personality, celebs she might not get the viewership that she seeks. No viewers = no coverage of more in depth topics.

Clare said...

She's a journalist and most definitely an entertainer. Now if we're talking about things in class like not having your own agenda as mentioned above then maybe we can say shes not a journalist. However, the idea that journalist can't have their won agenda is just that and idea. We don't want journalists to let their opinions out, but they do, and sometimes we enjoy that. For example, editorials.

Mike McDermott said...

You bet she's a journalist and I'll be damned if anyone can find me a journalist without a bias or agenda for that matter. People like Oprah can entertain because of her journalistic experience. She creates news, she sells news, she keeps people interested. The only reason she wouldn't be a journalist would be because she made money...

Laura Speers said...

I think Oprah is a journalist. She gives the public information on a variety of topics that usually center around what is happening in society. Yes, she often brings celebrities onto her show for ratings, but how is that any different from when magazines put celebrity gossip on the front cover to make money?

Alexandra said...

Oprah can be considered both a journalist and entertainer because she covers a broad spectrum of ideas on her show. She interviews actors to get their scoop for those interested in celebrities lives but she also covers issues that effect society on a closer level such as rape and parenting.

StefaniaMarsico said...

I think that at one point Oprah was a journalist, and she has slowly worked her way up and has now become a major producer of media. Sure, she brings us stories from around the world, but she has other journalist form the stories. I cant say that she's no longer a journalist because she is still bringing valuable information to the public, but I'm also wondering if she does half of the work herself, or has other people do it for her. For the most part she is an entertainer, she brings human interest stories to the public for their entertainment, and has become a major public figure because of it.

Keisha G. said...

Oprah is definitely both a journalist and an entertainer, however I think her vast audience is what makes her more of an entertainer. She is able to have celebrities on her show for entertainment, then she also addresses popular news stories. As for O Magazine, Oprah acts more like an editor instead of a writer/journalist, but first and foremost Oprah is an entertainer.

Michelle Zei said...

Well, Oprah is definitely an entertainer. I think that although Oprah shows up to investigations, she is not a journalist. She does have journalists work with her to bring stories to the public. However, she is scarcely out on the field delivering stories. I suppose she is powerful enough to get people to do that for her.

Lumpy said...

I think that Oprah can be considered both a journalist and entertainer. Not all news has to be serious, or set on exposing some new plot, created by George Bush, to destroy the world lol. Everything qualifies as "news" so even if she is doing a pitch for her book club, she is letting a lot of people know about the book and not only that, she is also conveying the storyline to her audience.

NewsNut said...

With regard to Oprah being a journalist, I believe she is more of a producer of media as well as an entertainer. Her subject matter may not fit all of the newsworthiness criteria and it's rather superficial at times but she is still giving us relevant information that fits many of the criteria.

Megan McNerney said...

Oprah is both a journalist and an entertainer. While something like shutting down streets of Chicago to have a party isn't journalist like, she also tackles many important issues on her show. While having her own production company and starting a book club aren't necessarily journalistic qualities, tackling health issues and helping children in Africa are. There are different types of journalists in the world and Oprah fits all the different categories

A former J1111 student said...

How is helping children in Africa a journalistic quality? And she sure did help them by hiring people who turned around and molested them. Well done.

Oprah is not a journalist anymore. Before she had her own show, yes, she was a journalist. Now, she is just a self-righteous entertainer. And her show DOES NOT tackle important topics. Hearing Whitney Houston talk about smoking crack is not important.

Geo said...

Whitney Houston is on crack? Tell me more!

- George
(the teacher and Bobby Brown fan)

Sam Thomas said...

It is interesting to me that much of the debate has focused on whether or not she covers 'real news'. The question posed was if she is a journalist. I think George has answered this question for us with a more recent blog post.

"As journalists, we neither support nor attack politicians and/or their policies. We simply report what we learn."

Just about everything Oprah does is in support or opposition to a person or cause. And by the definition above, Oprah is not a journalist.

Reporters that cover human interest pieces, and who cover 'happy' news are still reporters, as long as they present the facts and not their opinions.

Leah Curran said...

As much as I love Oprah, I would not consider her a journalist. I'm not sure how often she personally uncovers and researches the stories that appear on her show or in her magazine, but something tells me it's a rare occurrence. While she discusses important issues and causes, she is not the one directly doing the journalism work. She's the influential celebrity talk show host who people want to watch. That's why she's the one on the television screen relaying the information to the public. She is merely an entertaining entrepreneur, and a good one at that.

Leah Curran said...

As much as I love Oprah, I would not consider her a journalist. I'm not sure how often she personally uncovers and researches the stories that appear on her show or in her magazine, but something tells me it's a rare occurrence. While she discusses important issues and causes, she is not the one directly doing the journalism work. She's the influential celebrity talk show host who people want to watch. That's why she's the one on the television screen relaying the information to the public. She is merely an entertaining entrepreneur, and a good one at that.

Brian Rose said...

Oprah can definitely not be considered a journalist. As she may report on news, interview people, and present intriguing stories, they are never reported to the public without her having some kind of personal opinion or her playing an actual part in the stories. As previously stated, a journalist reports without taking sides. Everything Oprah presents comes with her side of the story.

KearnDaddy said...

Oprah is indeed not a journalist!! Her entertainment value is far too high for her to be labeled "journalist." It can't be both in the business. If she weren't so biased and were a bit more apolitical she could make a case for being an actual journalist, but Oprah often lets her opinions and political views outshine that of any such journalistic nature.

Andrew Kearney

Anonymous said...

FELICIA TOPSALE SAYS..........

I believe Oprah is a journalist. She just recently interviewed Whitney Houston. Every journalist in America would have loved the opportunity. Houston later said that Oprah was the only person she would do the interview with because she trusted Oprah and I think it is because Oprah has journalistic integrity and she is sincere. There has been a lot of focus on the philanthrapy work she does, how much money she has and the things she owns so it is easy to forget how she made all of her money and built her empire in the first place. Aside from Barbara Walters, she is the most respected journalist and TV personality in the country, if not the world.

Wafai Dias said...

Since Oprah never really called herself a journalist I wouldn't call her a journalist either. She simply does SOME of the things that journalists do.