Here at AC360, we are fortunate to share the newsroom with Christiane Amanpour and her team. They “moved in” last April, when Christiane launched a new program on CNN International. Tapping into her vast experience reporting on events around the world, "Amanpour" provides in-depth analysis of the most pressing global news and features high-profile interviews.
Christiane’s career started in Providence, Rhode Island, where she was in charge of the graphics that went on on-air at a local TV news station. Christiane aspired to become a foreign correspondent, and she began on that path when she left Providence and accepted a position at CNN.
In 1983, just three years after the network's founding, she got her start with the company as an entry-level assistant on the international assignment desk in Atlanta. Christiane credits her background in helping her ace the job interview. "They asked me a few questions, all of which I knew because they were mostly about Iran and the revolution," she says, "and I'd lived it so I knew those questions."
Tom Foreman has written nearly 1,300 letters to President Obama on AC360.com. He has done them every day since the January 2009 presidential inauguration— weekends and holidays, too.
“I thought, well, when he gets inaugurated, I’ll write 10 days of letters to him saying what I think,” Tom said. But he didn’t stop at 10, 100 or even 1,000 letters. A short-term project has seemingly turned into a hobby for the veteran journalist. Tom said he’s never received a response from the White House but that’s never discouraged him from writing about a myriad of topics.
Some letters explore hot-button political issues and others discuss subjects as light-hearted as Tom's annual family Mardi Gras celebration. Tom frequently invites the President to contact him in return but that hasn’t happened.
When your boss is Anderson Cooper, what do you give him for his 45th birthday? Can you surprise a man who’s innately observant and passionate about finding the truth around him? Yes. If you’re sneaky and determined, then yes you can.
360 staffers Ben Finley and Devna Shukla worked with reality TV stars Ernie Brown, aka Turtleman, and Mauro Castano from “Cake Boss” to deliver a memorable birthday party live on-air.
There were a few close calls when the surprise was almost spoiled, but thanks to some quick thinking, fast door slams, and the speed (and grace) at which Ben can wheel an event cake, the plans were kept hush hush.
I’m taking you behind the scenes so you can get a taste of what happened before and after the birthday ambush. This is a web exclusive, everyone.
You may not get a sense for the distinctive smell of our reptilian guests, but you’ll see how they try to bite the hand that holds them (initials A.C.). Special thanks to Turtleman for bringing the two snapping turtles, one weighing in at 50 lbs., and for teaching us that his “yiyiyi” call is more than just a gimmick – it makes his “soul feel better.”
It’s tough for our staff to surprise Anderson for his birthday. First, he knows it’s coming. And, he’s traveled the world, met the most fascinating people and lives a pretty exciting life.
We had to beat last year’s dog and pony show. One idea jumped out at us: Turtleman. And Cake Boss. Together. Check out a few behind-the-scenes pictures and come back to the blog for more on Monday!
See what happened during the show when Ernie and Mauro delivered their birthday gifts. After you watch, wish Anderson a Happy Birthday on twitter @AndersonCooper!
Anderson Cooper 360° interns Taylor Cannon and Terek Pierce take you behind the scenes for a CNN vocab lesson.
Editor's note: Get a behind-the-scenes look at how Anderson Cooper and AC360° producers created a study exploring kids' views on race, and tune in tonight at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
It had been a while since our production team hung out in elementary or middle schools, but while some things change, others remain the same. Some kids were still cliquey, bells still rang when it was time to change classes and students still walked in single file lines. But students today seem to be more affected by the constantly changing world around them, in a way many from my generation weren't. There was talk of bullying, Martin Luther King and equality - and those comments came from both 6-year-olds and 13-year-olds. From the mouths of babes!
Spending time with young people is always invigorating. However, for our team, working 12 straight hours, starting at 4 and 5 am, left us depleted by the end of some days. Also, we were on an early morning school schedule which is something members of our late-working AC360 staff aren't used to normally.
In this behind-the-scenes preview, Anderson Cooper describes "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture," the groundbreaking year-long investigative study that will air the week of April 2 at 8 and 10 p.m. ET. Race relations is one of the most explosive issues in America and for many, it’s one of the most taboo to talk about, especially with children. For this special report, AC360° contracted a renowned child psychologist to help us understand how race influences a child’s world.
This week @AC360 passed 100,000 followers on Twitter! We thought long and hard in a series of intense brainstorming sessions about how to best mark the milestone. The finest champagne (drunk producers are hilarious, but ineffective), a hot air balloon ride (too many of us to comfortably fit in one basket), a pet bird for the show (no volunteers to clean the cage), a choreographed flash mob (varying skills of coordination in this group), an extra vacation day for all (bosses vetoed), a permanent balloon arch in the newsroom (gets old after a while), matching Twitter bird tattoos (requires needles), a break-out Parkour session (too many expensive cameras nearby), diamond pendants (budget restrictions).
The CNN commissioned pilot study builds on the original Doll Test’s historic research done in the 1940s that examined how African -American children interpret race, discrimination and stigma. Teaming up with child psychologist Dr. Melanie Killen, the report scientifically explored how kids view interracial contact in their daily lives. The children, ages six and thirteen, were shown images that were designed to be ambiguous to children. “What is happening in this picture” was the starting point for interviews conducted with the group of 145 African-American and Caucasian children in six schools across three states. The report explored how children’s interpretations of the images changed when the races of the characters were switched.
This series will tackle controversial issues and answer some difficult questions. Is race a factor in how children view conflicts and choose friends? Do children see race or are they, as many parents believe, socially colorblind? How, when and why do they form their opinions on race? Can those opinions change over time or at a certain age, are kids “hard-wired” about race? And does the racial make-up of their school and environment affect their opinions on race? Anderson along with CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien will share with the viewers the children’s answers and the conclusions our researcher drew from their responses.
Tweet your thoughts about the upcoming @AC360 series using hashtag #KidsOnRace. Find out more about the project from the CNN Press Room and be sure to watch starting Monday, April 2 at 8 and 10 p.m. ET on CNN.
Anderson Cooper was joined by CNN's political team for special coverage of the Republican presidential contests on Super Tuesday 2012. Click each thumbnail to view the behind-the-scenes pictures taken on the set in Atlanta.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with AC361°