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Oprah: A Great Exception to the Rule

November 25, 2009

Oprah Winfrey's Friday announcement that her talk show will end in September 2010 signals not just the end of a long reign on daytime television, but wraps a significant media milestone in women's visibility.  Oprah is a media mogul with international influence on everything from books - a nod by Oprah's Book Club has been known to increase a print run fivefold - to her instrumental endorsement of Barack Obama's run for U.S. President.  She was the only person listed by Time Magazine as "one of the most influential people" in each annual list from 2004-2009, as well as one of the most influential people in the 20th Century. Today, women hold less than 3% of decision-making "clout" positions in media.  And despite constituting 65% of all undergraduate and graduate journalism and mass communications students, women earned only a quarter of new media jobs created from 1990-2005.  Winfrey remains the most visible exception to this rule, making her absence next year hugely significant, if not nearly as influential as her quarter-century presence. The WMC salutes Winfrey's work thus far, and we look forward to her next venture. As we continue our mission to make women visible and powerful in the media, let's look out for more women in media leadership roles.