Once again, the Guardian has chosen its top 100 most ‘powerful’ people in television, radio, newspapers, magazines, digital media, media business, advertising, marketing and PR. In a move that’s more than reminiscent of Time magazine’s 2006 person of the year announcement, it has selected ‘You’ as the number one entry (congratulations).
‘Breaking with tradition’, the Guardian claims ‘You’ highlights the growing power of the digital consumer, and the use of data. Again, this is the same as the reason given by Time magazine’s selection in 2006. The Guardian has gone one step further though, highlighting a ‘dual sense’ of ‘empowerment and exposure’, making ties between user data and digital surveillance. This neatly ties in with the Guardian’s coverage of Edward Snowden’s information obtained from the NSA.
The rest of the top ten is made up of C-Suite executives, the majority of which are based, and largely operate, outside of the UK. This points to the growing power digital media has on a global stage, where boundaries are not defined by countries’ borders. While representatives from Google, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon make the top ten, Yahoo!’s new CEO Marissa Mayer manages only 57th place. This is surprising considering Yahoo!’s acquisition of behemoth Tumblr and the reports that it attracted more homepage visits than Google in July.
The biggest faller (who still makes the list, see George Entwistle) is Lord Justice Leveson. The judge who was scaring journalists and editors 12 months ago with his Inquiry and recommendations for press regulation, now seems to be a footnote on a period of history the media hopes to forget. Falling from 10th to 100th (his inclusion at all surely just an excuse to write about how much things have changed), Leveson seems to have fallen victim of his own fear that the report would end up ‘on the second shelf of a journalism professor’s study’.
Quite what the comparative criteria is that defines ‘power’ is unclear as the ranking has Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix at number 22; Riccardo Zacconi, the co-founder of Candy Crush maker King at 56; the proprietor of the Independent and Evening Standard titles, Evgeny Lebedev at 64; and Olivia Coleman at 71.
It is also unclear what gives Coleman more power than Trinity Mirror’s chief executive Simon Fox (at 72) or Hearst Magazines UK’s chief executive Arnaud de Puyfontaine (at 73), and the more you read, the more disparate the list becomes. So few Marketing & PR professionals appear that David Bowie has been squeezed into the category for his surprising album release.
The PR professionals who make it are:
As is the way with ‘power’ lists, the MediaGuardian 100 2013 is so diverse that as a single entity it means very little. The criteria by which each individual is judged – cultural, economic and political influence in the UK – seem so subjective that a ranking based on them would vary person to person.
The caveat the Guardian gives, ‘that no list is ever definitive’, has never been plainer. It asks for debate, but when presented with such a motley crew, debate just seems redundant.