Wilbert L. Cooper
host and senior editor
‘VICE Does America’ and VICE.com
New York University, M.A.
Ohio University, B.A.
As host of “Vice Does America,” Wilbert Cooper can be caught in some awkward, perhaps dangerous, situations like that time he reported on a Civil War reenactment in Alabama. His serenity comes back at Vice’s New York headquarters where he writes and edits. It’s no surprise Cooper was drawn to VICE’s edginess. He was inspired to be a journalist by writers like Hunter S. Thompson and the New Journalism movement. Cooper explains, “It was the wild, immersive storytelling of Thompson and people like Tom Wolfe and Truman Capote that got me interested in journalism as an actual career. And it’s that connecting tissue that led me, to the chagrin of my parents, to take an assistant editor gig at VICE over more well-known newsstand publications six years ago. This was back when VICE was closer to a punk-zine than the international media powerhouse it is today.”
“Studying journalism in college and evolving with VICE as it has become more of a primary news source for millennials, I’ve had to continuously sharpen my traditional reporting skills. And I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t go gonzo without doing your homework,” says Cooper.
Cooper’s background is a unique blend of marketing, public relations and journalism. Early on, he had internships in editorial at Time Out New York, marketing at Noble Media Management, and communications at World Wildlife Fund. He also served as a writer and marketing director for Backdrop Magazine. Cooper sees convergence as the future.
“Increasingly, I am tasked with thinking of more than one way to tell a story. Having the opportunity to reach new audiences, whether it’s on the web or terrestrial broadcast or a podcast or a SnapChat, is very exciting to me,” he said.
He also sees the increasing importance of social media. “I use social media a great deal in my reporting as a way to contact sources and follow stories. My recent piece on the rise of racial politics of the alt-right movement within the Donald Trump campaign heavily relied on social media because so much of that movement is a product of the internet. Internet memes and forums like Reddit are the breeding ground for the white supremacist ideologies that have come to the forefront in this presidential election, Cooper said.
Red Right Hand The Cleveland Strangler, Cooper’s feature film on the Cleveland, Ohio serial murders and rapes was ASME-nominated.