Anderson Cooper anchored AC360 from the setting for the CNN Town Hall he would moderate with the Kasich Family in the 9pmET hour. The hour centered around a panel discussion of the upcoming town hall. Tuesday night will be the Trump family town hall in the 9pmET hour and Wednesday night is the Cruz family's turn. Anderson is moderating all three events.
Earlier in the day Anderson Cooper was at Tufts University for the Edward R. Murrow Forum.
The following article appeared on BostInno:
Anderson Cooper Shares What It Takes to Be a Journalist in the Digital Age
Olivia Vanni - Staff Writer, Education
4/11/16 @5:32pm in Education
Innovation touches everything in our modern world - and journalism isn’t excluded. For one thing, you’re reading this article from the comfort of your device of choice, not on the smudge-prone pages of a newspaper. But the means by which we consume news isn’t the only innovation-fueled evolution. Just ask Anderson Cooper, CNN news anchor and foreign correspondent extraordinaire.
He was the headline speaker for Tuft University’s annual Edward R. Murrow Forum on Issues in Journalism this week. During his chat with Jonathan Tisch, co-chair of Loews Corporation and chairman of Loews Hotels and Resorts, Cooper shared what it takes to cut it in journalism these days and how technology has altered the role of a correspondent working in the field.
Cooper landed his first correspondent gig at Channel One News by, as he says, abiding by professor Joseph Campbell’s advice to “follow your bliss.” That wisdom led the now-anchor of “Anderson Cooper 360” to have a friend make him a fake press pass so he could sneak into Burma and interview student activists.
“I didn’t know how to break into the war business, so I was like, ‘I’ll just start going to wars,’ which obviously you can imagine my mom was thrilled about,” Cooper explained. “I was a fact-checker there for about 6 months before I came up with this sort of scheme.”
After pulling that stunt in Burma, Cooper knew he had found his path. Being a war correspondent was everything he wanted out of his career and out of his life, he explained. Flash forward to his current role at CNN and he’s all the wiser, knowing exactly what it takes to be a journalist in our world today. Take, for instant, emotion. Cooper has earned the reputation of showing certain emotions, such as compassion and grief, while he is reporting in areas afflicted with conflict - something from which journalists are generally taught to shy away. But, as he shared, emotion poses a balancing act for reporters.
TO ME, I THINK YOU HAVE TO GO AND BE WILLING TO BE OPEN TO WHAT YOU SEE AND BE CHANGED BY IT.
“I think you have no business going to a place where tragedy has happened - like the Gulf Coast after Katrina, or Haiti after the earthquake or Sri Lanka after the tsunami - unless you’re willing to be moved by what you see,” he said. “There are some people who pretend to go in and be this hard-bent reporter, they’ve done it all, they’ve seen it all, tell jokes about what they’re seeing and they just sort of compare one tragedy to another.”
Take for instance, one case Cooper encountered when he was in Sri Lanka after the tsunami in 2004. He encountered a gruesome scene caused by the waves of the tsunami pushing over a train, which crushed and killed the people around it. He stated:
It was just a horrific scene of crushed steel and human bodies trapped in the steel, ripped apart. It was one of the worst things you could possibly see and smell and I remember there was a reporter from some daily paper in New York. I heard him walking around, comparing this to some other tragedy he had been to. I just thought, ‘This guy has no business being here. This is a burial ground, and this man has no respect for what he’s seeing.’ To me, I think you have to go and be willing to be open to what you see and be changed by it. I think it should horrify you and it should make you cry at night when you’re closing your eyes alone in bed… I think it’s important you carry those people with you. That’s part of the responsibility.
Simultaneously, Cooper does clarify that you can’t let emotions get the best of you in his profession. It’s not even a matter of journalistic integrity, but rather a necessity simply to get the job done. You can’t be so overwrought that you can’t find the story you’re obligated to tell. It creates a dual, almost twisted mindset, according to Cooper. As he described:
My job is to produce stories... That’s a sick way of thinking. You feel like a vulture. In one part, you have all this motivation because you want people around the world to know what’s happening here. But, at the same time, to do that you have your cameraman shooting a child who’s breathing their last breath and you’re concerned about, ‘Wow, I wonder if the boom mic is picking up the death rattle of this child.’ That’s a very strange thought to have in your head the same time that you are inwardly weeping over what you’re seeing. It’s very hard thing to reconcile those two parts of your brain.
Add to that internal, emotional conflict the technological resources today, and you have a nearly impossible job. Cooper explained that back in the day, journalists had the luxury of taking days to piece together a report. Now, though, innovation has enabled reporters to show the masses what’s going on in a volatile area in real-time. It’s a blessing and a curse. He said:
We are broadcasting live from places that you couldn’t even 10 years ago. It’s extraordinary to me in a place where you’re not just reporting on something that occurred a week ago that you’re just re-playing or re-talking something, it’s actually happening all around you... It’s all happening around you, so you think you’re going to report on one thing but someone comes up to you with the body of their child in their hands and they don’t know where to bring the body of their child to be buried. And you’re on the air and this is happening… You’re suddenly confronted with this issue of, "Well, do I just report on this kid whose head just got cracked open and who’s collapsing in front of me? Or do I actually pick him up and at least try to bring him to a vaguely safer location?" You’re constantly confronted with issues that previous generations of reporters never really were confronted by, because you’re reporting in real-time.
The latter scenario to which Cooper is referring actually happened to him while he was reporting in Haiti. He was on the air when a riot broke out and a young boy was hit in the head by a cinderblock. Cooper had to decide between continuing his narration on what was happening and helping the boy, who was gushing blood. Ultimately, he brought the boy to safety. But similar moral dilemmas come up for correspondents more and more often now that we have the technology to report live. Not that Cooper sees that as a con, believing people can see even more of what’s happening in the world. Although, he also maintains our tech is still limited, as it has a ways to go until it can fully capture the tragedy occurring in an area.
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