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2005
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2005 Media Person of
the Year: Anderson Cooper


The CNN newsman is voted the year's "media icon."


Anderson Cooper, the host of "Anderson Cooper 360°" on CNN, was named the 2005 Media Person of the Year in the annual online poll held by I Want Media. Cooper was announced as the year's top figure in the media industry on CNBC's "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" on Dec. 5.

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Updated: Q&A interview with Anderson Cooper.

The readers of I Want Media nominated 10 candidates and sent thousands of hits to the two-week-long Internet poll. The winner last year, in 2004, was Jon Stewart of Comedy Central -- a "fake" news anchor.

Following Cooper, the figures who earned the most votes this year were, in order: Steve Jobs; Howard Stern; Google guys Sergey Brin and Larry Page; and Martha Stewart. Here are the 10 candidates:


Anderson Cooper. The former reality television show host may very well be the news anchor of our age. The youthful, telegenic ex-host of "The Mole" is a contributor to metrosexual magazine Details and possesses solid journalistic chops from his reporting stints in locales like Bosnia and Rwanda. His "emotive" reporting during Hurricane Katrina connected with viewers -- and helped catapult him to his new role as the centerpiece of CNN. Fans favorably compare him to fake news anchor Jon Stewart (the 2004 Media Person of the Year), which, says Cooper, is "high praise." Updated: Q&A interview with Anderson Cooper.



Nick Denton. Blog pal Arianna Huffington calls him "the Rupert Murdoch of the blogosphere." Actually, his Gawker Media stable of popular blogs seems more like Conde Nast of blog world, attracting desirable demos and big-name advertisers. While Jason Calacanis sold his Weblogs outfit to AOL and Andrew Sullivan hooked up his blog to Time.com, Denton licensed Gawker content to Yahoo, insisting that "the whole point about blogs is that they're not part of big media." Denton and his crew of scrappy, buzz-making bloggers have probably done more than about anyone to establish blogs as a legit alternative medium.



Google guys. Sergey Brin and Larry Page are scaring the bejesus out of the mainstream media. The founders of the omnipotent search giant seem to be continuously launching -- or rumored to be launching -- new projects with the potential to crush traditional media business models. Will Google extend its ad-brokering system to TV commercials? Should Google be allowed to digitize the books of major libraries for online searches? Will Google drain classified ad revenue from newspapers? At least the ascendancy of Google and other portals gave new value to Time Warner's much-maligned AOL.



Steve Jobs. Thanks to the efforts of the CEO of Apple Computer, you can now watch "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" on your iPod. The announcement in October was following by a string of other revoluntary developments in the way consumers can access television programming. TiVo recently revealed plans to allow unlimited TV-show downloads to the device. As for Apple, its next move may be media domination. One analyst predicts we'll one day see an iPod with enough storage to turn it into a "portable media center" that will play hundreds of movies and thousands of songs.




Judith Miller. The former New York Times reporter should be named Media Person of the Year "because she maintained her journalistic integrity while being pressured by the government to give it up," says one e-mail to I Want Media. Well, perhaps. Miller was praised by her editors after serving nearly three months in jail for refusing to reveal her source in "Plamegate." But soon after she was freed, Miller came under what she calls a "tsunami" of criticism for her role in the story. Top editor Bill Keller says she "seems to have misled" the newspaper. Did Miller give the Times a black eye to rival the Jayson Blair scandal of '03?



Rupert Murdoch. In April, the media tycoon delivered a pivotal industry speech, warning media folk to wise up to the potential threat of the Internet: "We need to realize that the next generation ... [has] a different set of expectations ..." His News Corp. is now busy buying up nontraditional media assets like MySpace.com (and has no interest in acquiring Knight Ridder). Meanwhile, his Fox News continues to dominate and may spin off a business news channel in 2006. Murdoch this year contended with the surprise resignation of son Lachlan while watching fellow longtime media boss Michael Eisner step down at Disney. But Murdoch, 74, isn't going anywhere. "I'm sick of being told I'm dying," he says. "I'm feeling great."



Craig Newmark. Even Rupert Murdoch says he's a fan of Craigslist. Within 10 short years, Newmark's no-frills community Web service has come to rule the classified advertising marketplace worldwide. Goldman Sachs has described Craigslist -- which is staffed by less than 20 people -- as "a real menace" to any media company that sell classified ads. Its low-key, unassuming founder doesn't perceive his creation to be any sort of threat. Many people turn to Craigslist because of its "culture of trust," he says. "We are simple, effective, honest." Newmark is now rumored to be exploring the possibility of a news site written by "citizen reporters."



Sumner Redstone. "The age of conglomerates has ended," proclaims the chief of sprawling media giant Viacom, which will split next year into two separate public companies, to be called Viacom and CBS, in an effort to boost "shareholder value." Redstone may be on to something. Talk of break-ups now surrounds other media biggies, including Time Warner, Knight Ridder, Primedia, and VNU. Observing that younger audiences are fleeing traditional media and entertainment, Redstone has been steadily increasing his personal stake in a video-game publisher, Midway Games. He may be on to something yet again.



Howard Stern. The infamous shock jock is leaving his longtime radio show on Viacom's Infinity Broadcasting at the end of the year to host a new "uncensored" show on Sirius Satellite Radio. Stern's widely publicized move, following his confrontations with the FCC over alleged indecent broadcasts, could help propel the young medium of satellite radio more into the mainstream. Hugh Panero, the head of rival satellite firm XM, dismisses Sirius's Stern strategy as a "gamble all on one personality." But in an e-mail to I Want Media, one fan gushes that Stern is truly "forging new frontiers."




Martha Stewart. She was already voted Media Person of the Year in 2002. But 2005 may be her biggest year yet. How often do media moguls get released from prison and immediately star in two high-profile TV shows? While Stewart's version of "The Apprentice" won't continue past December, her syndicated daytime show is going strong. Advertisers are returning to her flagship magazine and her new advice book is a bestseller. Coming soon: a Sirius satellite radio channel, a new line of home DVDs, even Martha Stewart-branded residential communities. She recently told Fortune magazine: "I cannot be destroyed."


Honorable Mention: The "Dying" Newspaper. Barely a day goes by without a pundit declaring that the obituary of the print newspaper will soon be written, as more and more younger readers flee to the Web and other media. For now, newspapers are a profitable business. But pressure from investors to preserve profit margins is leading more publishers to cut jobs -- an estimated 1,900 this year -- which only fuels the perception that newspapers are on their way out.







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