Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper

Holly Mueller

CNN reporter discusses career, upcoming memoir in Stark campus speech

Anderson Cooper, host of “Anderson Cooper 360”, signs his father’s book for Alma Whittemore. After opening the book, it came to Cooper’s attention the book his father wrote, Families: A Memoir and a Celebration, was actually stolen from a library. Last ni

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Anderson Cooper said he’s checking the facts himself in writing his upcoming memoir.

“It’s actually a true memoir. I don’t want Oprah on my ass,” he said, referencing the controversial James Frey memoir A Million Little Pieces.

In a speech last night in the Stark campus’ Timken Great Hall, Cooper told stories from his life and body of work as a broadcast journalist. The CNN anchor attracted more people than the 700-capacity room could hold, and people had to be placed in other “overflow” conference rooms located across the hall.

Cooper smiled as he told the audience he doesn’t usually do speaking events.

“The woman who had my job before me always did speaking events, and I got her job,” he said.

Cooper began his speech by discussing when he graduated from Yale, and he said he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. He said he asked his mother for advice, and she told him to “follow your bliss.”

After taking the advice from his mother, Cooper applied for an entry-level job at ABC News but didn’t get it. Instead, Cooper said he left to cover the war in Bosnia and moved overseas to follow his dream with a home video camera and a fake press pass in hand.

“This was my bliss; this is what I wanted to do forever,” he said.

Cooper said he learned a lot while covering stories across the world.

“Gunfire never sounds as dramatic as it does in the movies,” Cooper said.

While reporting, Cooper traveled to where “the line between life and death was razor-thin.” He said terrible things happened every day. There were people who committed great horrors, but there also were people who had great compassion.

Cooper said he loves reporting overseas because it is “unfiltered.” He described much of America’s news, such as the presidential elections, to be very “orchestrated.”

An example of “unfiltered” news would be the tsunami coverage last year, Cooper said.

“It’s impossible to fit all you see over there in a thin camera lens,” he said. “No lens is wide enough.”

At the end of his half-hour speech, Cooper took questions from the audience for the next 30 minutes. Anthony Hardman, senior broadcast journalism major, asked Cooper what advice he had for aspiring journalists. Cooper said he owes his success to outworking everyone.

“It’s important to develop who you are and follow your passion,” he said.

Cooper’s passion for chasing the unreported and untold also will be seen in his upcoming memoir. Reading an excerpt from the book, Cooper compared his life to a new species of shark. Scientists say the shark rests still on the bottom of the ocean.

“It can breathe, and it can rest, but it doesn’t have to move to live,” he said. “I don’t believe that.”

Contact College of technology reporter Holly Mueller at [email protected].