Posted by: edgarvasiliu | July 19, 2009

The Good and the Bad of the Oprah Effect.

Arnold Schwarzenegger on Jay Lenos Show announcings he will run for the office of Governor of Califorrrrrrnia

Arnold Schwarzenegger on Jay Leno's Show announcing he will run for the office of Governor of Califorrrrrrnia

Matthew Baum and Angela Jamison make an interesting case that people can be informed from soft news. This comforts me because I want people to be informed voters. However, I also am bummed by it too because hard news can enable more critical thinking which in theory will lead to better voting. These people are voting according to their perceptive which isn’t necessarily bad but what if perceptive is incomplete or misinformed. This is where hard news/personal responsibility is vital. So I am a bit ambivalent about the “Oprah Effect” because I am glad to see people are clever enough to extract information from soft news however the lack of serious thought is unsettling in a democracy. This statement is really sad and even scary: “For them, the choice is frequently not whether to consume hard or soft news, but whether to consume soft news or no news at all.”

Also, may I add that Oprah’s show is one of the better soft news programs in that there are some episodes that are quite thought-provoking as well as mind expanding that are a lot closer to hard news. So I think it is not really the best  presentation of soft news. I wonder why Baum and Jamison picked Oprah specifically. Perhaps her influence?



  1. The last question you pose in your entry makes me think back to a research project I did in Mass Communication Research. My group and I developed a survey to determine just how influential opinion leaders like Oprah, John Stewart, Anderson Cooper, and Rush Limbaugh really are to college-aged individuals. Our survey found that our generation trusts the opinions and is more influenced by our family, friends and peers.

    Not to say that people aren’t influenced by celebrities and journalists, I just thought it was interesting!

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