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College of Arts and Sciences

CNN producer says government major plays key role in career

By: Kathy Hovis,  A&S Communications
November 15, 2019

 Tom Goldstone with studentsTom Goldstone ’94 says his Arts & Sciences education has helped him make sense of his 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, where he shared his career pathway and advice for students interested in journalism, media, politics or global affairs. The career conversations are hosted by the College of Arts & 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 to cover events at the White House, in Congress and throughout 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, Goldstone was sent to Buffalo to uncover anything he could about bomber Timothy McVeigh. Key interviews he landed there helped propel him to a top position on the news desk and eventually to a producer position 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 at Paula Zahn’s show in 2004, where he traveled the country setting up town hall forums in advance of the presidential election. He joined the Fareed Zakaria show in 2009, just a few months after it had launched.

“I’m doing work related to what I had studied all of those years ago,” said Goldstone, who travels with Zakaria all over the world. “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 included 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 I never took or didn’t pay enough attention in.”