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Commentary: Important advice from one of my heros

Jim Shaw

FARGO — When I was growing up in Massachusetts, I regularly watched the Boston television newscasts. There was one news and sports reporter who really inspired me...

His name was Clark Booth. He was a brilliant writer and storyteller. His stories were interesting, informative, clever and compelling. Booth died two weeks ago at the age of 79. Unbeknownst to him, he had an enormous influence on my career, even though I never met him.

When I was in junior and senior high I would shut the door, read the newspaper out loud, and pretend I was Clark Booth reporting on a story. When I was 16, I wrote him a letter. I asked him about his background, and what tips he could offer to get a job and succeed in television news. I was surprised and thrilled when he wrote back. I still have that handwritten letter, which is dated October 9, 1972.

He wrote that he went to Holy Cross College and majored in English. He said to get a broad liberal arts education, go to journalism school, and get some newspaper experience. "Newspaper work will give you the most solid grooming in journalistic fundamentals," he wrote. I did all of that.

Before wishing me well, he provided great advice on how to succeed as a journalist. "Read a lot and read everything," Booth wrote. "Digest the newspaper daily and try to develop a knack for clearly constructing its thoughts and activities that compose an event. Think about it constantly, and with luck, it will work out."

That advice is as important today as when he wrote it 45 years ago. So, Rest in Peace Clark Booth, and thank you for your sincere guidance in launching my broadcast journalism career.