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Anderson Cooper Lauded for Objectivity by NAMIC

Sep 16, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Veteran television journalist Anderson Cooper has been named this year’s recipient of the Mickey Leland Humanitarian Achievement Award, to be presented by the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications.
Established in 1992, the award honors individuals or organizations demonstrating a commitment to furthering the concerns and causes of people of color. It will be presented to Mr. Cooper at this week’s 21st annual NAMIC conference at the Hilton New York.
The award is named for the late Texas congressman who championed the idea that hunger and other humanitarian needs should not be politicized.
Taking a page from the congressman’s book, Mr. Cooper makes a habit of trying to distance himself politically from the stories he covers in order to present a more objective picture.
“I think a journalist’s job is to find facts and report information and let viewers make up their own minds,” Mr. Cooper said. “I don’t have a problem separating my own point of view. It’s what I’ve been training myself to do for the last 17 years.
“I don’t want to get to a point where I’m wearing my politics on my sleeve.”
During that 17-year period, viewers and other professional organizations have taken notice. Individually or in conjunction with CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” Mr. Cooper won Emmys in 2006 for his coverage of famine in Nigeria, New Orleans’ Charity Hospital and black-market fertility drugs. He has won awards for his coverage of the South Asia tsunami, the civil war in Bosnia and famine in Somalia.
He is the author of the bestselling memoir “Dispatches From the Edge” and most recently signed on as a correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
Whether they’re political or not, some stories are just important to tell, Mr. Cooper said, adding, “I’d like to shine a light on some things that aren’t well known but should be.”
Several months ago, “Anderson Cooper 360” aired a story about students in the Chicago public school system who have died in the past year “for reasons that are curious,” he said. “There have been several dozen children killed on the way to school, and it hasn’t gotten a lot of attention nationwide. I spoke to a school superintendent who said, ‘If these were white children, this would be front-page news.'”
Mr. Cooper feels that perception is one reason corporations and newsrooms are making more of an effort to be diverse. “I think a diverse newsroom is important,” he said. “But it’s not something that happens overnight, and it’s a process that’s always too slow for the people who are most affected by it. There’s still a long way to go.”
“NAMIC is pleased to honor such a worthy recipient,” Alicin Reidy-Williamson, NAMIC board chair and senior VP of corporate responsibility and public affairs for MTV Networks, said in a statement announcing the honor. “It is a privilege to pay homage to a member of our industry who has fostered a sense of humanism in today’s media.”
Past recipients of the Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award include former United Nations Ambassador Bill Richardson; George Herrera, former president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume; and Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television.

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