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Media Navel Gaze: Happy New Year!

Mark Kollar  Follow

The year ended amid snowdrifts and on a whimper with news such as whether Billy the Kid would be granted a pardon (he didn't get it, alas) on the front pages last week (even on The Wall Street Journal) despite a year of pretty big headlines (BP spill, health care, the World Cup and the vuvuzela, Chilean miners, Wikileaks, the Tea Party, flash crash, iPad, Haiti, LeBron, Snooki, Lady Gaga and Justin, DADT repealed, Prince William engaged and bed bugs on the loose, to name a few) and pretty big market moves -- the Dow ended the year with about an 11-percent gain to close at 11,577 and the Nasdaq a 17-percent gain at 2,652; AND UConn buckled to Stanford, breaking its 90-game winning streak.

Friending Tops Searching

Facebook, for the first time, beat Google as the most visited Web site for 2010, according to Web tracker Experian Hitwise, with 8.93 percent of all US visits and Google with 7.19 percent. As a brand name, however, Google wins overall if you include all its properties including YouTube and Google Maps.

Best Headline Last Week

From The Journal in a story about the debutante ball in New York: "At Waldorf, a Ball with Belles and Whistles."

On the Mark

Christina Norman, CEO, OWN, Oprah Winfrey, Chairman, OWN and David Zaslav, President and CEO, Discovery Communications, toasted the moment of launch in Los Angeles for The New Oprah Winfrey Network. [Robin Layton/Oprah Winfrey Network, via PRNewsFoto"]

January 1 marked the launch of Oprah Winfrey's OWN, a well-covered, well-tweeted and, jury out at this point, a well-watched cable channel, but one that has many firsts nonetheless, chiefly the start of a network based solely on a single personality (I will argue Disney does not count as a sole personality). Brian Stelter, media reporter at The New York Times, clearly hit the mark on coverage if you count words written, or maybe even uber coverage, filing curtainraisers in the Times, appearing on air a few times over the last few days and tweeting sometimes seemingly nonstop, especially on launch day.

Although I thought at times Stelter's reporting was a little too "of the moment," he clearly discussed how this is an important event for TV, how this could be the start of a more "personalized" media (Martha and Ryan channels in the wings?) and how this endeavor is full of risks. Aware of his fascination with the launch from Twitter, I really started to take notice of his coverage when he tweeted that the name and acronym and of the new network was maybe a little "grabby," signaling that coverage may be balanced. He never really took a side on its future success, unlike Peter Lauria of The Daily Beast, who predicted in his 2011 media-world outlook that OWN would be a ratings failure because "one person does not a network make." As he noted, however, 85 million homes on launch day had access, making it the widest cable debut ever. But on New Year's Day did Oprah fans dig deep into the cable channels and "live their best life," which actually when I tuned in showed mostly trailers for future programming? We will see if it owns up to its promise.

The Gaze will feature an "On or Off the Mark" column periodically in CJP's new blog format, which launches today and will appear twice weekly, with a second post now midweek. CJP

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