With both humor and gravitas, Anderson Cooper offered a peek into his life as a journalist Oct. 18 during an hour-long Q&A session in Tomlinson Theater.
The CNN anchor balanced stories of covering the revolution in Egypt and rape victims in the Congo with references to both Lady Gaga and Honey Boo Boo, offering a full perspective on what fills his 16 hour work days.
Cooper’s conversation with Temple University students followed the 2012 Lew Klein Alumni in the Media Awards, at which he was honored with the Excellence in the Media Award.
“Shouldn’t you be studying?” Cooper asked the hundreds of students at the event as he took to the stage. “I hope you at least get credit for this.”
The students, from the School of Media and Communication and throughout campus, weren’t shy with their questions—though many had written them down to prepare for the moment—quizzing him on everything from the impact social media has on objectivity to voter ID laws to how he manages his diverse career.
“How do you wear so many hats?” asked one student.
Noting her fedora, Cooper retorted, “Ironically, you’re the only one wearing a hat in this conversation.”
The storied journalist told the students they should always “outhustle everyone around you no matter what job you have.” He said he landed his first anchor job at CNN because he was always available to fill in for people when they were out of the office.
“That’s why I don’t take vacations now, because there are a bunch of schmucks waiting for my job,” he joked.
Well known for putting his all into his stories, Cooper was asked by another student if there is a line reporters shouldn’t cross and before becoming too involved. Cooper recollected a story from the middle of a violent protest in which a 10-year-old boy was hit in the head with a brick. While most people there fled the scene as he lay bleeding, his eyes starting to roll back, Cooper said he put his camera down and ran over to help this child.
“This is not altering the course of history,” he said. “This is helping a 10-year-old kid.”
He cautioned the future journalists in the room that their mere presence can sometimes impact what they’re covering; people will perform for the news cameras.
“It’s important to acknowledge that you’re there,” he said.
Cooper believes that we’re living in “a democracy of information,” in which anyone can make their thoughts known to the world through social media, yet it’s also a venue through which false information and opinions mimic news. “It makes it hard for people consuming [information] to figure out what is real and what’s not. Reporting is more important than ever before.”
Temple’s media impact celebrated
Cooper wasn’t the only media all-star on campus. A line-up of alumni from the School of Media and Communication who have made Temple proud through their careers returned to accept the Alumni in the Media Award and be inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. This year’s honorees were:
- Fred Bauer, COMM ’64, producer, director and writer
- Amy Caples, RTF ’85, assistant professor of Media Studies and Production and a former anchor and reporter at CBS3/KYW Newsradio
- Clark DeLeon, JOUR ’72, columnist, The Philadelphia Inquirer
- Kenn Venit, RTF ’66, JOUR ’68, adjunct associate professor, Quinnipiac University, and adjunct instructor, Southern Connecticut State University
- Dyana Williams, RTF ’97, on-air personality, 100.3 WRNB-FM Radio One
And, winning the prize for the farthest distance travelled to attend the award ceremony, was Jian Wang, StOC ’08, the first recipient of the new Rising Star Award. He is the vice director of the Daytime News Department for Sound of China, China National Radio.
For more information on the Lew Klein Alumni in the Media Awards, which supports nearly two dozen student scholarships each year, visit sites.temple.edu/lkam.