Broadcast Journalism: The Truth Behind the Camera

Review of Dispatches from the Edge

By Rena Slavin

Anderson Cooper – one of the most recognizable faces on TV – opens up about his personal and professional life in his 2006 memoir, Dispatches from the Edge. Cooper recounts his ascent in the field of televised news by artfully intertwining these two aspects within one story. His first foray into journalism was a little bit “sketchy.” With a fake press pass and a borrowed video camera, Cooper traveled alone to Burma where he followed a group of students who were fighting the government. Twenty-three years later, he is the face of CNN, a correspondent for 60 Minutes and a freelance author. Cooper relays his very own American dream to the reader in an inspiring and profound fashion.
With over twenty years of experience in journalism, Anderson Cooper has witnessed more loss, devastation, and violence than most can imagine. His memoir blends the atrocities he has covered with his own struggles. Despite his reserved nature, he candidly and emotionally depicts his life. Cooper does not spare the reader any detail; he reveals his human flaws right alongside his triumphs. In a world in which celebrities are allowed to mold their own public image, Cooper’s honesty and transparency is refreshing.
Dispatches from the Edge instantly revises the common misconception of the CNN anchor as a cold and distant reporter and replaces it with a feeling of respect and admiration. He retells stories about the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and the Somalian famine through his own eyes. For us viewers and readers, this is a much deeper understanding of not only the facts of these events but also the emotional atmosphere in those moments – an element that frequently gets lost in a television broadcast. Anyone who reads Dispatches from the Edge will walk away with a better understanding of journalism and current events, as well as a more serious understanding of global issues that ordinarily would seem irrelevant.