Oprah shorthand induces laziness

The Oprah Culture Industry doesn’t extend just to those Oprah Winfrey ordains as ministers in her “church,” as Stories of O Contributor Karlyn Crowley calls it. Oh, no, many media outlets attempt to hitch their wagon to the Harpo star.

Take for example a new blog with an occasional Oprah newsfeed. It’s to be seen how useful it will be, but the newly debuted Hollywood industry blog, The Wrap, has launched an Oprah Watch strand as part of its regular reporting. The initial story—about Oprah’s involvement with bringing the phenomenal novel Push by Sapphire to the big screen—falls into a trap that occurs with many blogs, which is using “Oprah” as shorthand and not elaborating on why the story is Oprah-relevant.

Blogs, as an evolving medium, have a tendency to merely replicate news from wires, such as Reuters, or from other blogs. Not only is the result a lack of real news, but also a dilution in journalistic standards of reporting. Where, in essence, is the story?

Oprah shorthand in blogging  means more work for readers seeking in-depth information—not necessarily a bad thing if we want to encourage research and interpretation skills.

Stories of O: the Oprahfication of American Culture is due out February 2010.

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