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10 Media People to Watch in 2012

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These 10 media people to watch have the power to take the constant change of media and use it to further their careers. While it's too early to predict who will have the greatest success in 2012 and who will face tough challenges, they all have the skills to boost not just their own fortunes, but those of the entire industry.

1. Oprah Winfrey

A photo of Oprah Winfrey
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Oprah Winfrey faces a difficult 2012 at the helm of her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) cable TV channel, which has struggled to attract viewers. The channel fell to 73rd in the Nielsen ratings for its target audience. Winfrey hopes by leaving her office and getting back in front of the camera, she can create the same magic she had for 25 years with her syndicated daily talk show.

Updates on Oprah Winfrey:

2. Rupert Murdoch

A photo of News Corportation CEO Rupert Murdoch
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News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch is one of the most powerful media people, not just in the U.S. but around the world. His future as head of his media empire is in question with the News of the World phone-hacking scandal in London. The investigation was enough to shut down the British tabloid, which was the biggest-selling Sunday paper in the U.K. In 2012, Murdoch may be forced to testify and could face the wrath of News Corp. investors, who don't want other News Corp. properties, like The Wall Street Journal, tarnished.

Updates on Rupert Murdoch:

3. Piers Morgan

A photo of CNN talk show host Piers Morgan
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CNN talk show host Piers Morgan faces challenges on two fronts in 2012. First, he will mark a year since replacing Larry King. Morgan has faced mixed reviews and ratings ever since the premiere of Piers Morgan Tonight. Because 2012 is a presidential election year, more people watch the cable news channels, so he'll face pressure to grow his audience. At the same time, he faces scrutiny in the phone-hacking scandal in the U.K., because he was once the editor of the News of the World and the Daily Mirror tabloids.

Update on Piers Morgan:

4. Ryan Seacrest

A photo of TV personality Ryan Seacrest
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2012 could be the year Ryan Seacrest capitalizes on his American Idol fame in ways few imagined. He is reportedly being considered as the next host of Today, NBC's powerhouse morning show. That depends on whether current host Matt Lauer decides to leave. Even if Seacrest doesn't make that move, he is primed to take the next big step in his career. American Idol faces an inevitable decline, so the key for Seacrest is to make the leap before that happens. Hosting Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on ABC for the past few years is just the beginning.

Update on Ryan Seacrest:

5. Anna Wintour

A photo of Vogue Editor-in-chief Anna Wintour
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Behind the trademark shades of Anna Wintour are the eyes of one of media's smartest businesswomen. Wintour is Editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, which celebrates its 120th anniversary in 2012. She has posted the magazine's entire archive, 400,000 pages, online. While critics scoff at the $1,575 price for access, someone will be willing to pay. Wintour deserves credit for re-using existing content in a way that creates buzz, builds her magazine brand and generates new revenue while others in the magazine industry struggle.

Update on Anna Wintour:

6. Mark Zuckerberg

A photo of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is always at work expanding his franchise, and 2012 will be no different. On the heels of launching Facebook's Timeline feature, Zuckerberg is concentrating on Facebook's IPO, which is expected during 2012. That means his company will now offer stock to the public, a sure sign it has matured and is planning for the long-term.

Update on Mark Zuckerberg:

7. Bob Greenblatt

A photo of NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt
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NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt will be looking to score a prime time hit in 2012, even just one. The network already dipped to a low in the 2011-2012 prime time season when it finished in sixth place in a key ratings demographic on one night. Greenblatt has rejected a Wonder Woman remake, but has shown confidence in Grimm. We'll see if new NBC owner Comcast can revitalize NBC under his watch.

Updates on Bob Greenblatt:

8. Jeff Fager

A photo of CBS News chairman Jeff Fager
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CBS News chairman Jeff Fager will spend 2012 figuring out how to use the ratings of the CBS prime time lineup, which set a record at the beginning of the 2011-2012 season, to rebuild the news division's ratings. Starting with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, the plan is to return to hard news, which is the mainstay of hit CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes and marked the glory days of Walter Cronkite. The next key test is the relaunch of CBS This Morning, which replaces The Early Show as the network's morning news program.

Update on Jeff Fager:

9. Katie Couric

A photo of television journalist Katie Couric
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In 2012, Katie Couric will find out whether she's still America's sweetheart when she launches a daily talk show in syndication at ABC. Katie will miss out on most of the time slots made available when Oprah ended its 25-year run in 2011. By the time Couric premieres in September, it will have been more than a year since her departure from CBS. Critics have already compared Couric's efforts to those of Jane Pauley, another former Today host, whose talk show failed in 2004. At least Couric won't have to be up against Oprah.

Updates on Katie Couric:

10. Julian Assange

A photo of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces more uncertainty than most other media people in 2012. WikiLeaks stopped publishing government documents in late 2011 because it was close to running out of money. That came nearly a year after Assange was arrested for alleged sex crimes, and he is fighting extradition to Sweden to face those charges. While Assange has found both praise and criticism for testing the boundaries of new media with WikiLeaks, some wonder whether Assange can be prosecuted for using the Internet to leak government information.

Updates on Julian Assange:
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