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The conversation: Oprah's legacy

May 24, 2011 |  2:42 pm

Oprah After 25 years, Oprah Winfrey's final episode airs Wednesday, marking the end of an era.

She became a force in television and pop culture

"Winfrey is not a great journalist, actress (despite the Oscar nod for her role in "The Color Purple"), literary critic or political strategist. Instead, she is an extraordinary self-creation -- as many powerful people are -- who helped forge a sea change in the way the culture looks at black women in particular and black people in general," writes the editorial board.

Oprah offered life lessons...

Robyn Okrant, originally an Oprah skeptic, became an unlikely follower while writing “Living Oprah: My One-Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk.” She’s prepared to graduate from Oprah’s “University of Life” precisely because of Oprah’s influence and lessons.

...and became a beacon of self-help

Others take a larger view, fitting Oprah in the endless stream of self-help America offers and always has provided.

Beyond her Book Club, Oprah has been good for the economy

But Oprah's influence extends even beyond the improvement of people, NPR reminds us. She's also credited with revitalizing the neighborhood where her show is filmed. Harpo Studios opened in 1990 and gradually Oprah bought adjacent and nearby properties. As her show became popular, it drew larger audience members and more revenue to the area.

Can anyone really replace Oprah?

Everyone’s handling the change differently. While television executives try to line up a replacement, her fans are searching too. Jessica Grose at Slate sees Jay-Z and Gwyneth Paltrow as potential gap-fillers, but recognizes that neither has the perfect combination of transparency and hard-won success Oprah personifies.

RELATED:

Photos: 25 great 'Oprah' moments

Oprah Winfrey's TV pals look back

Oprah's Book Club: She spoke, we read

After Oprah leaves, daytime TV may never be the same again

Critic's Notebook: Oprah's revolution will continue to be televised

-- Julia Gabrick

Photo: Oprah Winfrey at the taping of "Oprah's Surprise Spectacular" in Chicago May 17. Credit: John Gress / Reuters

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