Tom Goldstone ’94 says his College of Arts and Sciences education has helped him make sense of the world. That’s what he does every day at CNN as executive producer of “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” a show whose mission – and tagline – is exactly that.
Goldstone visited campus Oct. 28 for a career conversation, in which he shared his story and offered advice for students interested in journalism, media, politics or global affairs. Career conversations are hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences Career Development Center.
A government major, Goldstone said the Cornell in Washington program “had a profound impact on my life.” His externship that semester was with CBS News, where he helped cover the White House, Congress and the city.
“I caught the news bug,” he said.
In his first position after graduation, with ABC News, Goldstone discovered that “my main task was to do lots and lots of research,” something he had become an expert at during his Cornell days. During the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, for example, Goldstone was sent to Buffalo to uncover anything he could about bomber Timothy McVeigh, who grew up in western New York.
Key interviews he landed there helped propel him to a top position on the news desk, and eventually to a producer post on “20/20,” where he worked on more than 100 stories ranging from murders and breaking news to lighter features, including one about a new retirement community for nuns, which helped the organization raise more than $1 million for new housing.
His next position with CNN landed him on Paula Zahn’s show in 2004, which had him traveling the country setting up town hall forums in advance of the presidential election. He joined the Zakaria show in 2009, just a few months after it launched.
“I’m doing work related to what I had studied all of those years ago,” said Goldstone, who travels the world with Zakaria. “I was fascinated with foreign policy here at Cornell and I soaked it all up. Now I’m using it every day in my career.”
Some of Goldstone’s favorite Cornell memories include classes with history professor Walter LaFeber.
“He would start a story and tell you details about what was on Thomas Jefferson’s desk or what Hamilton said to Burr that sparked the fight,” Goldstone said. “His stories were so rich and powerful. If you closed your eyes, you could imagine you were there in 1784.”
Goldstone encouraged students to find work that they love to do and “never turn down an assignment.” His definition of success? “When someone tells me the show is like that great college class that [they] never took or didn’t pay enough attention in.”