It’s no surprise that she’s so tired. Her usual day begins at 5 a.m. and does not end until 11 p.m. Each day she receives about 1,500 emails and does not usually have more than a half hour break. Still, she talked to us animatedly, leaning forward in her chair as her passion for her job flowed from her gesturing hands. She looked put together and professional.
We write with more voice and point of view than most newspapers across the United States
“We write with more voice and point of view than most newspapers across the United States,” she said. “I love that San Francisco is a little quirkier and more irreverent and progressive and provocative than other cities or other regions. So I think even our style of writing reflects our community.”
From a young age, Cooper, originally from Kansas City, knew she was going to be a journalist. “I really liked talking to people and asking them questions and listening to what they had to say,” she said.
Cooper was a political reporter for years before becoming an environmental journalist. When asked how she became so successful, she explained, “I tend to be the sort of person that if I don’t think something is working out well, I think I can do it better,” she said. “I just decided that if I didn’t see something in the media that was working well, then I could do it better.”
And she worked her way up from there. Maybe this is why she is the youngest women Editor in Chief in the world.
There’s a lot of pressure that comes with her role with such a prestigious 150 year-old paper. One challenge she faces, like that of many reporters, is how to cover and deal with heavy issues facing communities every single day. As a mother, her threshold for certain topics has changed, which she said surprised her. “Before I had my son, I was able to look at stories involving children a lot more dispassionately, and now I just can’t even handle it,” she said. “When those kindergarteners were killed in Connecticut -- that’s the only time I remember crying at work.”
Cooper explained, however, sharing and covering these stories comes with the job. “That’s a news story. You have to go out. You just put on your mask and you go. As a reporter, I’ve seen a ton of extremely gruesome stuff that nobody should have to see in their lifetime, and that didn’t affect me as much as this event that happened from three thousand miles away.”
Still, she emphasized the importance of the news. Within the pages of the Chronicle, there’s always a sense of place. So when you see the newspaper, you know the stories are put on the front page because they inherently reflect an interest of Northern Californians.
At any given time, Cooper said there are about 200 journalists in the Chronicle newsroom, which makes it the largest news-gathering operation north of Los Angeles over to Phoenix and on the other side of the North Pole.