DALLAS — A plaque unveiled Monday pays tribute to a man whose face you wouldn't have seen on TV, but whose influence on Channel 8 News and the television industry as a whole is undeniable.
Marty Haag — WFAA's news director from 1973 to 1989 — was well known for his journalistic integrity and his unwavering quest for excellence.
A tough taskmaster, Haag raised the bar in TV news — pushing his Channel 8 colleagues to the highest of standards.
He died in 2004 at age 69.
"Yes, he was challenging, and yes, he pushed hard, but that was good; it was good for all of us," said former WFAA reporter Doug Fox. "That made us better — better reporters, better individuals."
Haag, considered one of the best in his profession, had a reputation for hard-hitting, award-winning journalism — matched only by a reputation for his temper.
Dale Hansen once cracked a joke on air he thought was funny. Haag thought otherwise.
"Marty Haag was standing in the newsroom in pajamas, and I don't believe he had his slippers on," Hansen recalled. "He was so upset, he left his house at University Park, drove to the station by the time I finished the sportscast at the end of the newscast, and I thought I was a dead man."
Hansen survived Haag's wrath that day, and thrived in a newsroom environment that Haag created, where the goal each day was to be the best in the business.
"He created the kind of atmosphere, and you could come in and do your absolute best, and you wanted to, because he wanted you to," Fox said.
Tough, temperamental, yet tender-hearted, Haag considered his two sons his biggest accomplishments.
"He couldn't look over at this building, this newsroom, and not get emotional," Matthew Haag said. "More importantly, the people in it meant the world to him."
And that feeling is mutual.
"He was like a second father to me," said WFAA anchor Gloria Campos.
"He was far and away the best I've ever worked with" Hansen added.
Here is the inscription on the plaque that will be installed in The H. Martin "Marty" Haag Jr. Newsroom:
Marty Haag was News Director at WFAA-TV from 1973 to 1989. Marty personified journalism in the highest sense and under his leadership, WFAA was recognized with numerous national awards, including the Edward R. Murrow Award, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, the George Foster Peabody Award and a National Emmy.
Haag and his WFAA colleagues set national standards with local spot news coverage of stories such as the crash of Delta Flight 191 at D/FW International Airport and blockbuster investigative reporting on the savings & loan crisis in Texas. it was Haag's vision at WFAA that ushered in a long line of broadcast "firsts," including the nation's first fully-computerized newsroom, the market's first helicopter and the first station in Dallas-Fort Worth with live electronic and satellite news gathering capabilities.
In 1989, Haag became Belo's Senior Vice President/News, responsible for the Company's television journalism efforts across the country. He retired in 2000, the same year he was recognized with one of broadcasting's highest honors: The George Foster Peabody Award for Lifetime Achievement. He was described as "an industry icon who helped establish high ethical standards and quality reporting at both local and network news levels."
On November 11, 2013, the WFAA newsroom was named in honor of our leader, mentor and friend.