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Haag, Legendary Newsman, Dead at 69

1/18/2004 07:00:00 PM Eastern

Marty Haag, 69, a broadcast newsman for more than 40 years and the driving force behind Belo's TV news operation for 27 of those years, died Saturday, Jan. 10 of a stroke at Baylor University Hospital in Dallas.

During his tenure leading WFAA-TV Dallas, the station won five DuPont awards, more than any other station. Another veteran Texas newsman, CBS Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer, said Haag made WFAA-TV "a model for the rest of the industry. He showed the Belo Corp. how to make money out of good journalism on television."

Haag joined WFAA-TV in 1973 and ran the news department for the next 16 years before being named to oversee news Belo's 18 TV outlets.

Born Herman Martin Haag in Washington on May 27, 1934, he began his professional broadcast career in 1961 as a reporter for WBAP(AM) Fort Worth following a series of Texas newspaper jobs. He also worked at NBC News and stations in Cleveland, Los Angeles and New York. After retiring from Belo in October 2000, Haag became a consultant at Dallas-based Audience Research & Development.

Haag was a strong advocate for beat reporting and investigative journalism, saying that giving reporters a beat was the only way for them to develop sources and have the background and context to tell a story.

He was also critical of the increasing pressure on news departments to make money. In 1999, in an interview with BROADCASTING & CABLE, he said, "Cutting expenses means cutting people. It's easier to do crime stories, hire younger reporters based more on their looks than their intelligence, and not worry about keeping reporters and producers for a long time."

Haag's accolades included a Peabody and the Radio-Television News Directors Association's First Amendment Service Award. He is survived by his wife, Susan, and sons Andrew, Richard and Matthew.

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