Oprah Winfrey Shares a Breast Cancer Scare

A Conversation With David Letterman And Oprah Winfrey

While discussing the future of Oprah The Magazine, Oprah Winfrey revealed before a crowd in Los Angeles that she had a recent scare with breast cancer. She told the audience at the same time she shared the news with best friend, Gayle King. The interaction was captured in a new profile of Oprah in the New York Times.

On her breast cancer scare:

Ms. Winfrey, 58, has shown some signs of strain. She arrived at the conference with faint shadows under her eyes and announced to her best friend, Gayle King, and the audience simultaneously that she had a breast cancer scare the week before. (It was ultimately a false alarm.) When Ms. King grew visibly upset, one woman chided Ms. Winfrey for not telling her friend ahead of time and ordered her to apologize to Ms. King — all before an audience. Ms. Winfrey also did not hide her dissatisfaction with the criticism she had faced. She told the audience, “the press tried to cut me off at the knees” in its coverage of OWN, and bristled at questions about the challenges her magazine confronted.

“I don’t care what the form is,” Ms. Winfrey said with the conviction of a preacher. “I care about what the message is.”

As for the business of Oprah, i.e. boosting the magazine:

“Ultimately, you have to make money because you are a business. I let other people worry about that. I worry about the message. I am always, always, always about holding true to the vision and the message, and when you are true to that, then people respond.”

When it comes to the magazine, Ms. Winfrey said her staff prepared her to expect a 25 percent decline in newsstand sales after the talk show ended. (It has been closer to 22 percent.) And while she acknowledged that she enjoyed “holding the magazine in my hand,” she was pragmatic about print’s future and said she would stop publishing a print magazine if it were not profitable.

“Obviously, the show was helping in ways that you know I hadn’t accounted for,” Ms. Winfrey said. “I’m not interested, you know, in bleeding money.”

And the short-term plans of O the Magazine:

Ms. Winfrey wants that audience for the magazine, but she wants its readers to be younger. The median age for an O reader is 49, according to data tracked by the audience measurement company GfK MRI. (By comparison, Vogue’s median is 35.6 and Real Simple’s is 46.3.) Ms. Winfrey said she would like to attract women “in their 30s or perhaps their 20s, to be able to reach people when they are looking to fulfill their destiny.” She added, “By the time you’re 40, 42, you should have kind of figured it out already.”

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