Posted by: lorihowell | October 28, 2013

Two Things We Learned from Anderson Cooper

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Photo courtesy of Mayra Gomez-Lopez: Anderson Cooper graciously pauses for selfies with Portland State University students and staff.

World-class storyteller, Anderson Cooper, visited Portland last week to speak at the annual Simon Benson dinner, honoring philanthropists and distinguished PSU alumni.

Here’s what we learned:

1. It takes a big heart to share tough stories

If it’s your job to tell stories—especially about vulnerable people—you need to practice juggling the roles of active but empathic listener. Objectively plan the logistics of a story, like character and structure, but let yourself emotionally connect.

Covering emotional topics feels really uncomfortable sometimes—that’s how you know you have enough heart to do the job well. Those who don’t feel some amount of pain when questioning people at their worst times have no business as journalists.

2. Get comfortable with you to get comfortable with different people

Cooper says that being gay and coming out made him a better reporter—more aware of diversity all around him, and open to other people’s experiences. Though he values privacy Cooper is open, at least partly, because he’s comfortable with himself.

We live in a diverse culture. It’s critical to see life from other vantage points in order to tell stories. The best way to get comfortable with others is to first get cozy with your own self.

What are your favorite journalism insider tips?

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