Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Anderson Cooper speaks at Smith College

By Patrick Hoff

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Anderson Cooper, host of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” spoke at Smith College on Sunday, covering topics that ranged from his reporting style to his personal life.

Cooper’s talk was moderated by Jane Stengl, dean of the first-year class at Smith. She asked Cooper a series of questions from Smith students and faculty that had been collected prior to the event. The questions were broad, and many answers were met with cheers from the audience.

Cooper began by talking about how he got into journalism, admitting that after graduating college, “I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.”

After examining his options, Cooper realized that “TV news fit all the things I was interested in.”

Though initially rejected from broadcast news companies, Cooper broke into the field by creating a fake press pass and sneaking into war-torn countries such as Myanmar to report independently. After three years, ABC heard about what Cooper had been doing and asked for a tape of his work.

Cooper said that although at first he could not get the job he wanted, this “ended up being a blessing in disguise,” because instead of working an entry-level job, he was given a reporting job right off the bat.

Stengl compared Cooper to being this generation’s Walter Cronkite, a claim that Cooper was unsure of.

“I grew up watching him and … CBS news in particular,” he said, adding that he respected Cronkite very much, having done an interview with him.

Cooper said, however that the news industry has changed since Cronkite’s days on the air, moving from a limited group of men deciding news to the current “golden age of information.”

“The web has changed everything and kind of democratized information in a way,” he added.

Cooper also discussed the role of emotions in reporting a story, saying that reporters should act like human beings.

“You shouldn’t fake anything in news,” he said. “If you’re having an emotional reaction, you shouldn’t pretend that you’re not.”

“Some people see a conflict between the two, but I don’t,” Cooper added.

He said that being a human being makes people better reporters in some situations, allowing them to act on instinct and run towards what others are running from.

He also said that when reporting a story, it’s important to be affected by situations every time you experience them, especially when reporting powerful stories, such as the Haiti earthquake.

“I think it’s important to be moved every time and not become immune to it,” Cooper said.

Based on the attendance at Cooper’s talk, the lecture series will most likely become an annual event, according to the opening remarks made by Smith’s Student Event Committee. Cooper’s talk replaced Smith’s usual annual spring concert due to poor turnout at the concert in previous years

Patrick Hoff can be reached at [email protected]

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