Oprah Winfrey and her Money: Dr Boyce Watkins

26 Jul

I have been accused of being a critic of Oprah Winfrey, due to comments I’ve made about her on CNN.  But truth be told, Oprah is one of the 10 people I admire most in the world in terms of how good she is at her craft.  What I like about Oprah is that she is not just a TV show host, she is a business woman.  She didn’t just try to become famous: She built an institution.

Oprah’s cool $250 million per year dwarfs the incomes of other hosts with equally popular shows, primarily because Winfrey understands the importance of capital ownership.  While Winfrey’s success is amazing, there is still more that we can do.

When I spoke with Rev. Jesse Jackson last week, I mentioned to both he and his daughter that we have grown beyond the point at which African American leaders and public figures should deem it necessary to get their message to the world through media outlets like Fox News.  Fox News is a proven enemy of African Americans, and we should not have to go to our enemies to get vital messages to our people.

Winfrey has the right idea, but she is still owned by someone else.  Personally, I long for the day when black media is not owned by others, and that we don’t always have a non-black person calling our shots.  Other media: CNN, NBC, CBS and ESPN don’t have to answer to black people, so I would rather not answer to them.  We should not

have to go through guys like Bill O’Reilly to speak to our people.

To reach this goal, we are going to have to continue instilling the spirit and expertise of entrepreneurship to black children, and teach those children how to raise money and understand the power of media.  Finally, understanding the business behind media is critical, since fame is primarily a corporate phenomenon.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University.  He does regular appearances in media, including CNN, ESPN, BET and CBS.  For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.net.

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