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11 Media People to Watch in 2011


2011 promises to be another year of seismic change for media. 11 people are poised to reshape the industry during the year -- on the air, online or inside the corporate boardroom. Their actions will likely dictate the future for thousands of people working in media worldwide.

See the 10 media people to watch in 2012.

1. Steve Burke

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This is a name that could be as powerful as any other media titan in 2011. Steve Burke, the chief operating officer at cable TV giant Comcast, is poised to add NBC Universal to his media empire. All that stands in his way is the Federal Communications Commission, which appears likely to approve the $30 billion deal, possibly with a few restrictions. Critics, who say a company with TV, cable, internet, telephone and movie properties, appear unable to spark a public outcry to knock this supertrain off its tracks. Even advtertising expers say the deal will change their industry.

Updates on Steve Burke:

2. Oprah Winfrey

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The queen of daytime TV marks two milestones in 2011 -- the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on cable and the end of her daily syndicated talk show. Both moves are risky. Her talk show turned her into a billionaire who's beloved by millions. OWN will face the same challenges as any startup operation in attracting an audience, even with her name attached. If she can find the same success in a 24-hour cable universe as she had with a one-hour show, Winfrey will prove that even as a billionaire, her value is priceless.

Updates on Oprah Winfrey:

3. Julian Assange

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The founder of WikiLeaks is testing the boundaries of a free press. Julian Assange has been villified for posting U.S. State Department documents. While Assange faces a separate legal battle involving alleged sexual offenses against two women in Sweden, several in the U.S. want to punish him for compromising national security. The U.S. Air Force has blocked access to websites that have posted these documents, including The New York Times. In 2011, look for free speech advocates to come to his legal defense should he be charged with criminal actions.

Updates on Julian Assange:

4. Glenn Beck

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He's either America's most courageous patriot or its worst demagogue. There's very little middle ground in what people think about Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck. He has the ability to draw tens of thousands to a rally for values in Washington and bring outrage to Muslims. All the while, he's earned an estimated $32 million. The question Beck will likely answer in 2011 is whether all this publicity is leading up to a run for president.

Updates on Glenn Beck:

5. Arianna Huffington

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While many media ventures continue to spill red ink, The Huffington Post is posting its first-ever profit. Started by Arianna Huffington in 2005, her success will be the example other news aggregators follow. Even traditional media giants like The New York Times, The Washington Post and Gannett, Inc., appear to be embracing the aggregation model with the upcoming release of Ongo, an online news startup.

Updates on Arianna Huffington:

6. Mark Zuckerberg

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Facebook's CEO comes into 2011 as Time magazine's reigning Person of the Year. Yet time will not stand still for Mark Zuckerberg. He envisions all companies becoming social companies, using social media platforms to revolutionize themselves. If he is correct, that will surely take Facebook beyond today's standard of trading photos and posts with friends. It will make social media and corporate media the same entity. That will also make Zuckerberg, whose estimated net worth is already $6.9 billion, an even wealthier young man.

Updates on Mark Zuckerberg:

7. Sarah Palin

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Despite similar political views, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are actually pretty different when it comes to media. While he uses politics to further his media career, she's doing the opposite. Some say Palin's cable TV reality show Sarah Palin's Alaska is an effort to re-position her political brand to make a run for president in 2012. At the helm of her program is reality-show guru Mark Burnett, the man behind the CBS hit Survivor. If her reality show helps her launch a successful presidential campaign, look for the stock of TV producers like Burnett to skyrocket.

Updates on Sarah Palin:

8. Piers Morgan

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The man who takes the place of Larry King doesn't just have a timeslot to fill. Piers Morgan has a cable television network to save. CNN has struggled against right-wing Fox News Channel and the left-leaning MSNBC. While determined to stay middle-of-the-road, Morgan's tabloid background will give CNN a different approach from someone of a different generation than King. In his prime, King could command the attention of the nation. Against his cable news rivals, Morgan will spend 2011 trying to get noticed.

Update on Piers Morgan:

9. Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs began the year as Apple CEO, but years of health problems led to his death on Oct. 5. He had been The Financial Times' Person of the Year for 2010. His visionary brillance made personal computers, the iPod, iPhone and iPad common household items which changed the world in which we live. His career began with the Apple I computer that was built in the family garage and introduced on April 1, 1976. That humble start led to a lifetime of achievement.

Updates on Steve Jobs:

10. Rupert Murdoch

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Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who gave birth to the Fox network a quarter-century ago launches his newest breakthrough in 2011 -- an Internet newspaper. Murdoch's The Daily, $30 million investment, will be an iPad-only application. The biggest question will be whether readers are willing to pay for content that will likely appear for free elsewhere. Murdoch also faces personal scrutiny about the phone hacking scandal that forced him to shut down the News of the World, Great Britain's biggest-selling Sunday paper.

Updates on Rupert Murdoch:

11. Tina Brown

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The founder of The Daily Beast website will have a new task in 2011 -- turning around Newsweek magazine. Tina Brown leads this merger of new and old media, while facing down critics who say it's simply a combination of two money-losing organizations. Her task will be to take a familiar name like Newsweek, rid it of its cobwebs, and somehow combine its brand equity with the relatively new Daily Beast, while giving users a reason to choose this tandem over more successful competitors on both the newsstand and the web.

Updates on Tina Brown:
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