It was an extraordinary weekend at the Richmond Forum with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who presented a “360-degree look at world events” to more than 5000 people at the Landmark Theater and sat down for a Q&A with me on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. It was not only exciting for me to be able to question one of the star journalists of our time, but also a great opportunity for some of my students, who had a chance to meet him in person.
Most surprisingly to me was what an easy going and down-to-earth person Anderson Cooper is, who even spoke some German with me. There is really no difference between what you see on or off stage — at a sponsor reception in the Omni Hotel or backstage with the sound technicians. Cooper also took time to meet with the VCU students before the event on Saturday and even came back for a second round during intermission. You can read an account of the meetings by my graduate student Veronica Garabelli and a report by Katherine Coates from VCU’s Capital News Service. You can also view short videos that students shot (Video 1 – Video 2 – Video 3).
Bill Chapman, the Forum’s executive director, had invited 30 mass communications students to the meet with Cooper in a screen room at the Landmark Theater and an additional 100 students to the event on Sunday. Chapman also donated one of the photo panels on stage, which was signed after the Sunday event by Cooper, to be displayed in the VCU School of Mass Communications.
Cooper did not only give an overview of his impressive record as a globetrotting reporter and his recent experiences in the Egyptian protests and views on global events, but also some personal insights in the following Q&A. This ranged from his views on the upcoming presidential race, lunches with Glenn Beck, interviews with Lady Gaga, the relationship to his mother Gloria Vanderbilt and News Year’s Eve broadcasts with Kathy Griffin. As he had told me before we went on stage on Saturday evening: “Ask whatever you want.” And the audiences on both days submitted hundreds of questions.
Cooper said that this was the last speaking engagement for a while. In the fall he will start his new daytime talk show (“Anderson”), while still doing his newscast on CNN and contributing to 60 Minutes. And if that was not enough, he promised to continue to report from the hotspots of the world. If he could only enter those countries, he said, he would already be on his way to Libya or Bahrain. Tomorrow (Feb. 22), you can see Anderson Cooper again from New York. Not only on his CNN newscast, but also on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Also read the following media reports on the events:
“Anderson Cooper addresses Richmond Forum” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
“On the Scene: Anderson Cooper at the Richmond Forum” (Richmond.com)
“An Afternoon with Anderson Cooper” (Associated Content from Yahoo!)
“Audience Questions Answered by Anderson Cooper” (Associated Content from Yahoo!)
“CNN Anchor Discusses Life, Work, World” (Ground Report)