ANDERSON COOPER (JOURNALIST & NEWS ANCHOR)


By: Irvindya D Irawan (04120100020)


Anderson Cooper is an American journalist, news anchor, author, and television personality. He his well known for being the primary anchor of the CNN news show Anderson Cooper 360°, and also- as of September 2011- for hosting and executive producing his very own nationally syndicated one-hour daily daytime talk show, Anderson.
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Anderson Hays Cooper was born in New York City, New York on June 3rd 1967. As a television journalist, Cooper came from the quite impressive background. His father, Wyatt Cooper, was a writer from Mississippi that married the heiress to one the America’s greatest fortunes, Gloria Vanderbilt, in 1964. Gloria Vanderbilt was the great-great-granddaughter of shipping and railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, who died in 1877 and left a fortune estimated at $100 million. Anderson Cooper spent his childhood in Manhattan along with his father, mother, and brother Carter.

Although his family has an incredible amount of fortune, Cooper has always had a penchant for hard work. He was always determined to earn his own money. He started by modeling at age 11, to then working at a restaurant on Park Avenue in Manhattan during his teenage years. “I think, given my mom’s background, people have some idea of what my life must have been like, but the reality is very different. Certainly, growing up, there was a nice apartment and nice things in the apartment, but for me, one of the greatest privileges of my background was realizing that what a lot of people thing they want will not ultimately make them happier.” Cooper told Brad Goldfarb in Interview when asked about his childhood. Cooper managed to graduate high school a semester early in 1985 from Dalton, a private school in Manhattan. He then spent a few months travelling through Africa before continuing his education at Yale University. In 1989, he finished college and got his degree in political science and international relations. But his senior year of college was struck with an unimaginable tragedy- his brother Carter, who was already in a treatment for depression, jumped out of his mother’s New York City 14th floor apartment window, in front of her. Given his Ivy-League major, he originally planned on taking the U.S Foreign Service examination, but decided to become a news correspondent instead. He was especially eager to report on the war zones, which he admitted had a lot to do with his brother’s passing, "Suicide is such an odd, taboo sort of thing, and my brother's death is still sort of a mystery, so I became interested in questions of survival: why some people survive and others don't, " he explained to Goldfarb in Interview. "Covering wars just seemed logical."

Cooper’s first step in his long running journalism career started at a small news network called Channel One, that broadcasts youth oriented daily news to junior high and high school students in America, as a fact-checker. Cooper then went to Myanmar on his own with a fake press pass to meet and report on the students that are fighting the Burmese government, “I had a friend of mine make a fake press pass on a Macintosh, and I snuck into Burma and hooked up with some students fighting the Burmese government. I had met the person who was involved in the Burmese student movement in New York, and they gave me the name of a contact in a town in Western Thailand. So I found my way to this town that was like a Wild West border town, and I contacted the person and said I was a reporter. We met in an ice cream parlor, and then they agreed to take me in, and they smuggled me across the border into Burma.” explained Cooper to an interview to mediabistro.com. He eventually was able to sell his homemade news segments to Channel One. After being in Burma and reporting from there, Cooper decided to live in Vietnam for a year to learn the Vietnamese language at the University of Hanoi. When living in Vietnam, he had his video camera with him, and started making lots of reports about life in Vietnam, the Vietnamese culture and many other issues that are also being shown on Channel One. After that he went back to a few countries in Africa like Somalia and Rwanda to report about stories from the war zones for Channel One as a freelancer. For two years he did work for Channel One by reporting straight from war zones all around the globe. He has stated in an interview that he has a certain ‘fascination’ towards war zones, “For one thing, it's witnessing history, which I think is the most understandable answer. But I also found that I felt that the molecules in the air were different. In all the places where there was conflict it was sort of a highly charged atmosphere and there was something about it that appealed to me. I found I was very interested in issues of survival and why some people survive and others don't. I wanted to see first-hand. I felt very comfortable in those places” he said in an interview with mediabistro.com. His work at Channel One really garnered a lot of attention from major news organizations. Therefore, in 1995, Cooper was hired by ABC News.

Cooper started his career at ABC News as a correspondent, but eventually got himself a promotion to the position of being the co-anchor on their overnight news program, World News Now in 1999. In 2000, he found himself tired of the crazy schedule and wanting a change. He switched career paths by taking a job as a host for an ABC Reality Show, The Mole. After two seasons of The Mole, Anderson Cooper left the ABC reality show and took a job at CNN and back at broadcasting news. “Two seasons was enough, and 9/11 happened, and I thought I needed to be getting back to news.” His first job at CNN was a co-anchor position alongside Paula Zahn on America Morning. After making it as CNN’s weekend prime time main anchor in 2002, Cooper started hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve Special in Times Square. His dashing persona and unique perspective on current events around the world gathered him a large following amongst his audiences. Therefore, in 2003 he got the chance to anchor his own show on CNN that has made him very well known around the world, Anderson Cooper 360°, a show that is basically just like any other nightly news shows where they present the important stories from that day, but presenting it in an in-depth and analytical segments. He and his show have won numerous awards- such as the Emmy Awards, GLAAD Media Award, and Peabody Award- and has captivated audiences with his courageous and compassionate on-the-scene reports of history-making events, including the recent revolution in Egypt, the earthquakes in both Japan and Haiti, as well as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.




As an American journalist who lives in the United States of America, which is a country with a complete freedom of press and is a free country where anyone can speak their mind and voice their opinion about anything- Anderson Cooper never had to face any major challenges regarding the freedom of the press in his country. His show, Anderson Cooper 360°, even states as its premise that what makes their show special is how they present the news and the current events from many different points of views so that their audience can make up their own mind and have their own opinion about the issues that are happening around the globe. His opinions and how he presents the news in his own sarcastic though in a non-condescending way is what makes him famous and what makes people around the world that watch CNN look forward to his show every night to get their fix on the current events. Although, despite being able to present the news in many points of views, as a public personality, Cooper has to be able to hinder his own political preferences, “It's not an active censoring process. I just don't believe in wearing my opinion on my sleeve. It's not my job to take a stand on issues. And as a viewer, I don't care what some overpaid, over-blow-dried anchor thinks about an issue. What their position is really doesn't interest me. It's certainly the wave of cable news these days to get an opinion and yell about it, but I think that wears thin after a while.” shared Cooper in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2006 when asked about how he goes about keeping his politics off air.
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As far as challenges go, the challenges that Cooper has had to go through are more on the personal side. The fact that he is someone who brings the news to the public but is also someone who quite frequently finds himself on the news- thanks to his TV persona as an anchor. When asked about how it feels like being an anchor and a personality in the news in some way, in an interview with mediabistro.com, Cooper shares his philosophy as an anchor- “I think the notion of traditional anchor is fading away, the all-knowing, all-seeing person who speaks from on high. I don't think the audiences really buy that anymore. As a viewer, I know I don't buy it. I think you have to be yourself, and you have to be real and you have to admit what you don't know, and talk about what you do know, and talk about what you don't know as long as you say you don't know it. I tend to relate more to people on television who are just themselves, for good or for bad, than I do to someone who I believe is putting on some sort of persona. The anchorman on The Simpsonsis a reasonable facsimile of some anchors who have that problem.” He also is someone who is very committed to his profession as a reporter therefore does not ever want to comment on his personal life, stating, "I understand why people might be interested. But I just don’t talk about my personal life. It’s a decision I made a long time ago, before I ever even knew anyone would be interested in my personal life. The whole thing about being a reporter is that you're supposed to be an observer and to be able to adapt with any group you’re in, and I don’t want to do anything that threatens that," in an interview for New York Magazine.


Anderson Cooper has always been someone who is quite privy of the technological developments and has used technology very well in order to approach his way of reporting and also a way to connect with his audiences. Even from his early days as a news correspondent, he did not only write up his reports, but he also made videos using video cameras that he carries himself everywhere and turns it into news segments. As time progresses, Cooper also jumped on the Twitter bandwagon to use as a medium to connect with his audiences. He even has three twitter accounts attached to his name- first, his own personal twitter @AndersonCooper, his show Anderson Cooper 360°’s twitter account @AC360, and his daytime talk show’s twitter account @Anderson. He and his team use those three accounts as a medium to inform their audiences about the topics that are going to be talked about on the shows that day. That way, they can gather their viewers’ opinions regarding those topics so that they can incorporate what the viewers’ are thinking to the shows- which would be an exciting thing to watch as a viewer. He is also an active blogger at the Anderson Cooper 360 page on CNN.com.

In the world of journalism, Anderson Cooper is someone who is widely successful and someone that budding journalists in training can very well look up to. He has been doing what he is doing right now for the past twenty years and has been able to do so many amazing things in his career. What should also be noticed about Cooper is his attitude towards what he does. When he was asked in an interview (with Entertainment Weekly in 2006) about whether or not he feels like he is able to make a difference through his work- “I've gone through periods where I thought what I was doing was making a difference, and then I've gone through periods where I thought it doesn't matter at all. But whichever one is true, I do think there's still value in showing up and continuing to at least talk about these things that a lot of people don't talk about and honor the suffering and the sacrifices that are being made.” That kind of attitude is something that many journalists can hold true to.

Resources:

http://www.notablebiographies.com/newsmakers2/2006-A-Ec/Cooper-Anderson.html
http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/features/14301/
http://www.mediabistro.com/articles/details.asp?aID=1582&
http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1196770,00.html
http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/?hpt=ac_ac
http://www.andersoncooper.com/page/about-anderson/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anderson_Cooper