Thursday, March 03, 2005


One of lessons of working outside of New York for much of my career is that I learned about gifted people who work in smaller markets and don't get the attention they deserve. This lesson taught me something I have never forgotten. New York communications practitioners are arrogant about their skills. They know they are the best: They don't mind telling you so. It isn't true, of course, and never has been.

What sparked this thought was a chance discovery of a news column quoting a colleague of nearly 30 years ago in the television news business. This fellow, Larry Hatteberg, is the single most talented newsfilm photographer I have ever met -- and I have met more than a few. More than that, he has the complete package -- a voice that sounds like the thunder of God and an eye for human interest stories that is astounding. Finally, his temperament is mild. He was never the kind to do an end-zone dance when he scored on a story.

Working with him was trying because no matter how well you did, day after day his work was better -- much better. He led by example and not by word. I don't mind saying that I learned a lot from him, and I often wondered why he never left for a larger market or another station. The fact is he didn't, and he has compiled an enviable record and legendary portfolio of stories. If you don't believe it, click here and watch some of the profiles of people he discovered in the byways of Kansas.

I wrote Larry a brief note yesterday and included the section of the news article in which he was quoted. To my astonishment, he called me on the phone and left a heartfelt message that made me feel ashamed of myself that I hadn't kept contact with him.

Over the years, I have often compared my work mentally to Larry's. I have always come up short, but I have never minded that. There are talents who are so much better than anyone else that one should appreciate them, never envy their gifts. When I mention Larry to my New York colleagues, they often smile indulgently and secretly glance at one another. It's Horton again and his unbridled enthusiasm. But it isn't. It's the truth. Genius is where you find it whether in a big city or town. Larry chose the town and more power to him.


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