Remembering Marv Bossart

It’s been nice reading all of the great tributes to longtime WDAY anchor Marv Bossart, who passed away last week at age 79.

I’m too young to have known Bossart as a co-worker within Forum Communications. My experience with him came at Minnesota State Moorhead, where Bossart taught broadcast journalism courses.

I never had any interest in a career spent in front of the camera. Broadcast courses were required at MSUM for online journalism majors, so I took what I had to in that area.

And going into my first class with him, to be honest, I really didn’t know that much about him. I grew up in northwest Minnesota, which is WDAZ territory rather than WDAY.

Bossart’s classes were difficult, but they were fair. The students in those courses were a mix of broadcast kids and print/online kids like myself, but I never felt he was any less interested in my progress than anyone else’s just because I was a print/online student. That may not sound like a big deal, but I can’t say that about every professor I ran into.

And wow, did I learn a lot from him. Everything you’re reading this week is true. He was really a nice guy and had a great way of establishing professor-student relationships, encouraging on the one hand while also stressing the importance of improving. He’s often applauded for his on-camera presence, which is deserved as well.

One thing that I feel hasn’t been mentioned are his writing skills. That’s the one area that I learned so much from him. He always stressed the importance of writing tight, with the mindset of “it’s a 30-minute newscast, and every second counts.” Your TV script takes too long to get to the point, and maybe another story is left out of the newscast because of it.

That’s the type of thing that journalism students of any emphasis need help with. It’s not just for TV. When you only have a 15-inch spot for a story in the newspaper, you’d better make the most of every word too.

Anyone who took classes from Bossart is a better journalist because of it, and I’m proud to say I was someone who had the opportunity to learn from him.

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