Anderson Cooper’s Weekend In Richmond
Anderson Cooper may think he can be too chatty on-air as he confessed, but the CNN anchor and 60-Minute correspondent certainly did not drag on at yesterday’s matinee engagement at the Landmark Theater.
In one of two appearances at this weekend’s Richmond Forum, he was more than charming, funny, and insightful regarding world events and the state of news media.
He opened the program mentioning that he met VCU students the previous night wanting to be anchors. ”Why would anyone want to be an anchorman or politician?” he jested. “They need to start by being real people first.”
Privileged upbringing by designer denim fashion queen Gloria Vanderbilt aside, he rightfully earned his way into the ranks as one of TV’s most popular news personalities.
“Follow your bliss,” his socialite mother told him when he started looking for work out of college (he says she has never been very good with practical advice). Cooper was turned down for a position with ABC News early on and joked that his liberal arts degree from Yale did no good.
With a borrowed video camera and fake press credentials, he made his way into a student revolt in Myanmar and created his own path and opportunity.
He shared stories from his recent trip to Egypt where he and his crew were attacked while covering the revolution. He told how much security is given to visiting journalists and how easy it is to get caught inside the bulletproof bubble of a safety vehicle.
In closing his presentation, he spoke about a forgotten victim of Huricane Katrina – a 91-year-old woman that made it through the storm, but couldn’t survive the depleted resources of the New Orleans Convention Center where she was cast aside upon death. After the heartbreaking story, he shared wisdom learned from the frontline of tragedy – life hangs by a thread. A fragile line is the boundary between rich and poor; healthy and sick; and life and death.
The audience Q&A covered everything from social media to Lady Gaga. A VCU student asked if he had trouble sleeping after being so close to war. Cooper responded that some people that he has encountered still haunt him and is something he must carry.
Cooper shared enlightenment on the state of current events and the future of technology’s place in shaping the way information is shared. With the ever growing focus on revenue in the cable news industry, there has been a shift. Reporting must now follow viewership.
With the recent earthquake in Haiti, Cooper said interest lingered after a week while the aftermath continues to devastate the nation today. Cooper is upfront about using his position to continue telling the stories that need to be told – it is his responsibility.
“Reporters must never forget that they are telling the stories of human life.”
For more information on the Richmond Forum, visit http://www.richmondforum.org/.
Kevin Clay is the editor and publisher of GAYRVA.COM. He is a Richmond native, loves the city and knows it's on the edge of greatness. Don't hold back RVA. You can follow Kevin on GAYRVA's Twitter or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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