- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 16, 2004

Who made the biggest impact — for better or worse — on the news organizations this year?

It could be the Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart or Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell is a contender, as is White House adviser Karl Rove, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and wardrobe malfunction diva Janet Jackson.

And CBS News’ Dan Rather, of course.

The “2004 Media Person of the Year” will be named Sunday at 8 p.m. on CNBC, based on votes amassed in the past six weeks by “I Want Media,” an online compendium of daily press analysis in print and broadcast.

“Every year, we have a motley crew to consider, whether it’s Al Franken and Michael Moore or Roger Ailes and the ‘Powerline’ bloggers,” said Patrick Phillips, founder and editor of the four-year-old Web site, www.iwantmedia.com.

“This is a way to review the past year, to realize that sometimes it only takes one person to have a powerful impact. That’s the nature of the media landscape,” the Manhattan-based Mr. Phillips said.

The votes were many, and the opinions varied.

Time magazine editor Jim Kelly voted for Mr. Rather, noting that the newsman was “a cautionary tale for all of us,” while conservative-leaning Internet bloggers who questioned Mr. Rather’s claim that President Bush compromised his National Guard service 30 years ago “have added a level of commentary and investigation to what the mainstream media do.”

New Yorker media columnist Ken Auletta favored Mr. Rove.

“Most days, Karl Rove scorns the media. But President Bush’s uber-strategist made decisions that reverberate,” he observed.

New York Times media reporter David Carr thinks Mr. O’Reilly is a shoo-in, calling him a “one-man franchise — makes news, reports it.” New York Post “Page Six” editor Richard Johnson also voted for Mr. O’Reilly.

Mort Zuckerman, editor in chief of U.S. News & World Report and publisher of the New York Daily News, thinks Fox News chairman Roger Ailes should win after Fox News “challenged the broadcast audience for the first time.”

Fox’s Alan Colmes thinks Miss Jackson should win, noting that her exposed breast during last year’s Super Bowl put the entire press world into “panic mode.” Lisa Granatstein, columnist for Mediaweek, also voted for the singer.

Joe Trippi, former Howard Dean spokesman and now an MSNBC analyst, voted for radio shock jock Howard Stern, and Business Week media editor Tom Lowry gave the nod to media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Fox News host John Gibson voted for the FCC’s Mr. Powell, and Mark Cuban, founder of HDNet and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, cast his vote for reality TV star Paris Hilton.

“She knows how to play the media better than any person alive. If John Kerry had the same ability, he would be president,” Mr. Cuban wrote.

CBS Market Watch columnist Jon Friedman hopes Miss Dowd and New Yorker writer Seymour Hersh will win, based on their “courage to go against the flow.”

Fake anchorman and comedian Jon Stewart had multiple admirers.

He received accolades from, among others, American Media editorial director Bonnie Fuller, Women’s Wear Daily media reporter Jeff Bercovici, New York Magazine columnist Kurt Anderson and the Nation’s Eric Alterman.

“He’s done the virtually impossible — skewer the political process and the politicians and yet make it intensely important and relevant,” Ms. Fuller wrote of Mr. Stewart.

“His main target is the laziness and sensationalism of the news media,” Mr. Bercovici observed.

Martha Stewart was named “Media Person of the Year” in 2002; Ms. Fuller won last year, “narrowly defeating New York Times plagiarist Jayson Blair,” according to www.iwantmedia.com.

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