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Tom Brook Tuesday, 18 April, 2000, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Oprah goes under cover
Oprah Winfrey's magazine
The magazine promises something for each and every woman
By BBC News Online Entertainment Correspondent Tom Brook

After weeks of speculation, O: The Oprah Magazine - the latest media venture from TV talk show queen Oprah Winfrey - is about to hit American news stands.

The glossy 318-page publication has been described by Winfrey as a "personal growth guide" for women aged 25 to 49.


I am speaking to women who are interested in living their best lives, all races, all colours. I am a human being first trying to speak to that human connection that is in all of us

Oprah Winfrey

Winfrey, who adorns the cover, has written opening and closing columns, and conducted an interview with Camille Cosby, the wife of Bill Cosby, who describes how she survived her son's death.

The rest of the magazine bears Winfrey's handiwork with features that reflect her quest for self-improvement, self-empowerment and spiritualism.

Human connection

At a press breakfast to launch the publication Winfrey indicated her magazine was inclusive and targeting "tall women, short women, fat women, black women, Asian women".

"I am speaking to women who are interested in living their best lives, all races, all colours.

Martin Luther King
Luther King: Winfrey cites him as a source of inspiration

"I am a human being first trying to speak to that human connection that is in all of us, that part of us that wishes to be validated, that wishes to say that my life is worth something, my life has meaning, that's what we're trying to speak to with the magazine."

Although ultra-thin women adorn several advertising pages in the new magazine Winfrey told reporters that she eventually wanted to use models who have a more realistic full-bodied figure.

She said: "I, who have struggled with this weight issue for years, am very cognisant of the fact that I want to look at people who are real."

The magazine is heavy on motivational features, it almost seems to be peddling a form of soft religion. A two-page spread is devoted to what is described as "portable inspiration".

This boils down to four detachable cards inscribed with Winfrey's favourite quotations and sayings from luminaries like Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King. There is also a monthly mission journal to enable readers to schedule specific targets in personal growth.

Tina Turner reveals her passion for horror

The rest of the Oprah Magazine contains items on singer-actress Jewel baring her soul and a piece on Tina Turner's penchant for horror stories, mixed in with goal-oriented stories on making your dreams come true and features that include pictures of flowers accompanied by poems from Alice Walker.

There is a regular section on books that Winfrey has found "made a difference" and illustrations of her favourite products, which in the premiere issue include pyjamas, sunglasses and liquid candles.

Media saint

The publication is definitely a vehicle to promote Winfrey, her world view and her business interests. The TV talk show queen will appear on the cover of every issue of the magazine which will be published as a monthly from September (it will be bi-monthly up until then).

Winfrey is such a powerful media icon that the magazine has had no difficulty finding advertisers which augurs well for its success. In fact, the publishers were inundated and had to turn advertisers away for the first two editions.

She has been taking a hands on approach to editorial control, vetting articles, and refusing to let tobacco companies use her pages to promote cigarettes.

Oxygen
Winfrey has spread her influence far and wide

O: The Oprah Magazine is just the latest addition to Winfrey's rapidly expanding media empire. She is a partner in Oxygen Media, a new women's cable network which went on the air two months ago. She is also a producer through her company Harpo Films.

Although Winfrey's foray into magazine publishing has been time consuming she says her TV talk show, which is watched by 22 million Americans every week, and seen in 119 countries, remains "the mother lode".

Winfrey says she is driven by a desire to help promote inner growth in women but her commercial instincts are shrewd. The magazine is a carefully targeted effort to reach a readership beyond her largely middle-aged and middle-income TV audience.

The magazine may be part of the Oprah Winfrey brand name, selling care for the female inner spirit, but her followers see her as a media saint - a woman they can personally connect to, who has transformed their lives.

See also:

03 Feb 00 | Entertainment
23 Feb 99 | Entertainment
18 Feb 99 | Entertainment
03 Aug 99 | Americas
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