Oprah’s Career Crisis Means She Might Close O Magazine

Justin Bieber gave an interview to Oprah Winfrey this weekend about his career and his struggles with the spotlight. “It’s definitely not normal and there’s so many sacrifices that I’ve had to do,” the pop star told the talk-show host on “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” Oprah understands, Justin. She’s feeling the career doldrums herself these days, facing a breast cancer scare, a faltering cable show, and the possibility that she’ll have to shutter her namesake magazine.

As the New York Times reported yesterday, Oprah is not the Oprah she once was. She ended her wildly popular talk show a year and a half ago, and the cable network she built in the meantime is struggling. Ratings have sunk to 300,000 in primetime and 150,000 during the day. Oprah laid off 30 staff members, a fifth of the network’s employees, in March. She dismissed the network’s CEO, Christina Norman, soon after it launched. Splashy gambles, including Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show, proved a bust.

Meanwhile Oprah’s magazine, O, has seen a 22% drop in ad sales since her show ended. “Obviously, the show was helping in ways that you know I hadn’t accounted for,” she told attendees at the show’s annual conference recently. “I’m not interested, you know, in bleeding money.” The magazine’s average reader is 49 years old, significantly older than rivals like Vogue and Real Simple. At the same conference, she revealed she’d recently had a breast cancer scare, though it turned out to be a false alarm.

“She’s still Oprah. But she’s still struggling,” a journalism professor who wrote a 2008 book about Oprah, Janice Peck, tells the Times. “I think she’s scared, even though she’s very, very rich and she’s always going to be very, very rich. The possibility of failure, it’s quite scary.” Knowing Oprah, however, she’ll figure out how to turn this period of doubt into gold.

Photo: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

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