Anderson Cooper is undoubtedly the greatest reporter of the 21st century for a variety of very valid reasons that I will explore further in a simple way. Forget the naysayers and competitive bunch, not that there are too many of these anyway as Cooper has America virtually under his spell. For one, he doesn’t just sit behind a desk and wait for the story to come to him, he goes to the story himself, and has been notoriously known for traveling into the world’s most unsafe and dangerous places. Wherever there’s chaos, there is Anderson Cooper. A bomb went off somewhere? Expect to spot Mister Cooper close to that territory soon. Right on the field, he interviews the distraught victims and survivors of wars, disasters and atrocities of the 21st century. Anderson isn’t like the other superficial TV reporters trying to just make a name for themselves, Anderson immerses himself fully in the story, feeling what the victims feel in order to bring their tales back to us. The story will be left intact and untampered with and truth will prevail. With Anderson, you can be sure that you always get the truth which is more than what can be said for the myriads of other TV reporters, anchors and journalists out there.
His honesty, unbiased approach and very down to earth, cool, calm and collected demeanor is what makes him so appealing. Yes he knows when to get righteously pissed off at the right moment, if there I can use the term “right moment”… I probably shouldn’t use this expression. None of what Anderson Cooper is “staged”, I remember Anderson Cooper mentioning in his book that he prefers “unstaged moments” in his reporting and anchoring on TV, when he doesn’t know what will come next. Clearly, Anderson is a natural and speaks from his heart.
Anderson Cooper goes to places no one dares to set foot in, and he reports on non-glamourous stories that sometimes means he gets less ratings since viewers prefer entertainment to real life stories. But Anderson isn’t about the ratings. So he keeps on doing stories on what really matters.
Anderson isn’t also all about “look at me, me, me” (which I GREATLY appreciate), his very essence as a reporter is to report the story faithfully and move us, as viewers, to action. What sets Anderson Cooper apart is that he is a non-traditional anchor. He said himself that: “I’ve never pretended to be all-knowing, all-seeing. … Maybe I don’t look the way anchors are supposed to look …”
I also like this part of an interview he had with a website I Want Media back in 2005.
I Want Media: You were voted Media Person of the Year. Do you believe you made an impact in 2005?
Anderson Cooper: I’m not really conscious of myself in that sense. I’m doing what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years. 2005 was a very eventful year, and I certainly went to a lot of places where things were happening. I’ll leave it to other people to judge.
Anderson never makes himself to be the news, and the way he presents his daily show AC360, as well as the way he reports from all over the globe is truly a thing of beauty. (OK how can I use the word ‘beauty’ to describe wars and chaos…there’s beauty in everything though.) You don’t get opinion shouting, you don’t get a huge ego, you just get a guy that’s as raw and real as can be. In a way, what I’m trying to say is that Anderson Cooper understands a little more deeper than others what it’s like to suffer perhaps. Anderson grew up in a wealthy family on his mother’s side (but not father’s), and in the public eye and his brother committed suicide when Anderson was 21, and Anderson’s dad died when he was only 8 or 9. (Sorry if I got that wrong, maybe it was 10 or 11…I need to check my facts…I’m attacking myself :)) What I am trying to say is that because of his life experiences, Anderson Cooper understands that fame and money won’t make you necessarily happy. Because of what he’s been through, he identifies closely with those who suffer and understands that life is more than just about himself and his ego. The tragedies and experiences in his personal life have certainly helped him be the seasoned journalist he is today. Some can’t recognize talent and uniqueness when they see it. I, and many others, can. Anderson, thank you for being you.
Here are, according to us, Anderson Cooper’s best Top 10 work (There is more than 10 works I like about Anderson Cooper so picking 15 was hard):
1. Somalia in 1990
Anderson Cooper’s first ever story. Before ever working for ABC or CNN, Anderson Cooper served as chief foreign correspondent for Channel One, a channel for students in junior high and high schools across America. Anderson reported and produced stories from America, Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia, Iran, South Africa etc. These stories were broadcast over the Channel One News school television network and seen in more than 12,000 classrooms nationwide. In 1990, Anderson had been working for nearly six months as a fact-checker for Channel One and wanted something more. So at the age of 22, Cooper got a fake press ID made by a friend for him, bought a video camera and went on his own to Africa to report on the crisis in Somalia. Haunted by his brother’s suicide, Cooper wanted to experience something that related to the inner agony he had experienced. Cooper said that he had become “fascinated with conflict” during this dangerous time of his life.
I’m putting this at number one, because if it wasn’t for Anderson Cooper having the guts to go to Somalia on his own, we would have never gotten him now on CNN. Don’t despise the small beginnings.
2. War Against Women
Very rarely do you see a reporter covering such an unpopular story but I’m glad he did to raise awareness about it. I’m not sure why I’m putting this at number two but this story really touches me. What these women are going through is seldomly covered in the news so I truly admire Anderson for having the courage to fly to the Congo and speaking to all these women.
3. 2005 Tsunami
Anderson covered the devastating aftermath of the Boxing Day Tsunami by going to Sri Lanka and reporting live for CNN. For this work, he received a National Headliners Award. Read his blog post titled Covering the Tsunami dating back to september 2005.
4. Famine in Niger
In August 2005, Anderson covered the famine in Niger. His attention to the extreme cruelty and violence in a lot of the African states has remained a constant in all his efforts to bring these issues to the forefront. For this report he was awarded an Emmy Award.
5. Dispatches from the Edge
Anderson Cooper’s first book, or autobiography. I have listen to it as an audiobook several times and this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s hard for a book to make me cry but this book got me weeping more than once, so I guarantee you this is truly a good book. It’s so great because it’s raw, real, genuine, compelling, charged with emotions but very intelligent, vivid and you feel drawn into the story. Oprah said she couldn’t put the book down and was reading all night. I did too. I just couldn’t put it down. Some people say you don’t get to know that much about Anderson’s peronal life after reading the book. I think you do. I was left feeling like I knew Anderson Cooper like he could have been an old friend, and most importantly you manage to catch an idea of how his mind as a reporter works. Simply brilliant.
6. Hurricane Katrina Coverage
In September of 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit and devastated parts of the United States.”For the last four days, I’ve been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi…I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are upset, and very angry and very frustrated…” This interview became a landmark as it highlighted the government’s inability to manage a crisis situation and their attempts at denying their mismanagement. The clip below shows Anderson standing up for the victims of New Orleans. This is supposedly the moment that propulsed Anderson Cooper to national and international stardom and was the start to his show AC360. This very moment is believed to have started a new era in journalism too, an era where reporters were no longer “only” reporting but also being humanitarians.
7. Planet in Peril
For a large part of 2007, Anderson Cooper travelled around the world to develop his four hour documentary, Planet in Peril, which talks about the issues threatening the planet and its inhabitants. The second installment of the documentary was aired in December 2008 and talks about the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. The clip below is a behind the scenes showing Anderson Cooper swimming with sharks.
<object width=”560″ height=”340″><param value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/7iuBM4qp9Wk&hl=en_US&fs=1&”></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/7iuBM4qp9Wk&hl=en_US&fs=1&” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”560″ height=”340″></embed></object>
8. Anderson Interviews President Obama in Ghana
During his interview with President Obama in Ghana Anderson brought up many important issues, like the economy, Iran, Afghanistan, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, along with the U.S. policy with regard to Africa. This was a historic interview in that many issues not normally discussed with sitting Presidents were brought forward in a very human way. I loved the fact that this was Obama’s first trip to Africa and that Anderson got to cover it. I have family in West Africa so I just couldn’t not include this interview here.
9. AC360 Special Africa Report
In May 2006, Anderson published “Dispatches from the Edges” which detailed his experiences in Africa, Iraq, Sri Lanka and his youth memories from Louisiana and Mississippi. Within a month, his book was at the top of the New York Times bestseller list and Anderson went on a brief book signing tour around America.
10. President Obama – White House Interview
In February 2009, Anderson interviewed President Obama in the White House. The topics discussed were varied, from Tom Daschle and the stimulus package to the First Dog. This interview showed a very mature yet human side to the President. I apologize for the bad quality of the clip, and Obama seems red in it, but I couldn’t find a better one on youtube. If I find a better one, I’ll change it.
11. Bosnian Civil War Report
Anderson also received the Silver Plaque from the Chicago International Film Festival for his report from Sarajevo on the Bosnian Civil War.