The Will Ferrell movie Anchorman is a comedy. The tale of a ‘70s and ‘80s-era local newsman and his team, the 2004 film is a hilarious look at the glory days of network news shows.
But underneath the satire, the foundation of the story is a nod to the days when the local newscast was the North Star, the place where people would get their news. The news anchor was a trusted family member. There weren’t many of them.
In New York, there were Channels 2, 4, 5,7, 9, and 11 and each had their devoted legions. If you missed the 6 p.m. news there was always the 11 p.m. Then the morning paper would be on the doorstep.
The changes in the news industry are well-documented and in many cases maligned. While it seems current news shows are nothing more than infotainment, true journalists do exist and many have been part of the industry throughout its turbulent changes.
PIX 11’s Marvin Scott is one of them. After more than 50 years in the business, he still lives the news. A member of the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame and recipient of 12 prestigious Emmy awards for journalistic achievement, Marvin Scott has done it all.
“I have covered more than 15,000 stories over the course of my career,” Scott notes. “The world has changed and so has the news business. It’s gone from a handful of channels to hundreds, and with the advent of social media has become more competitive. But local news, in my opinion, remains the best place for straightforward unbiased news.”
Since joining WPIX in 1980, he has served in multiple capacities: as an anchor, reporter, host, and producer. Scott is currently the station’s senior correspondent. For 27 years he hosted the weekly issues-oriented program PIX11 News Close-Up.
“No two days are ever alike,” Scott declares. “From triumph to tragedy, to political coverage, to stories about everyday people, it has been an enlightening education.”
The most difficult story Scott said he covered was the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
“This wasn’t a story in some far-off country,” he recalls. “It was in our own backyard and our neighbors were among the dead. I was not ashamed to shed an emotional tear on live television. I felt a part of the story.”
Scott began his media career as a teenager, chasing fires and news stories with his camera. At the age of 14, he sold a photo of a raging fire to the New York Daily News. A year later he sold a photo he took of Marilyn Monroe riding a pink elephant at the opening night of the circus. He said he finagled his way in with his high school press pass.
“You could say that fire photo ignited my career,” he says. “It exposed me to the excitement of the newsroom and seeing a photo I took in the newspaper.”
The veteran journalist’s assignments have taken him from the front lines of Iraq, Cambodia, and the Middle East, to the highways of the U.S. South, where he covered civil rights protests with Dr. Martin Luther King.
He spent four Christmas holidays with New York soldiers in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
“Those visits remain the proudest achievements of my career,” Scott maintains. “Being able to connect with our local heroes, and having them put their hands into mine, saying ‘Thank you for making a difference for my Christmas.’ We brought them a taste of New York, bagels, hot dogs and cheesecake. And we put them on live to talk to their families live via satellite. They were unforgettable experiences.”
Scott has been nominated for more than 40 Emmy Awards, winning 12 times. During visits to the Middle East, he interviewed Golda Meier, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat, among others. In New York, he has covered every mayor since John Lindsay.
A veteran reporter of the U.S. space program, Scott covered the launches of numerous Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle flights. Always willing to put his all into his reporting, Scott has pulled 9 Gs in an F-16 fighter jet, circled beneath the Long Island Sound in a nuclear attack submarine, and rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange.
Scott attributes his longevity in such a highly competitive business to his integrity and honesty. He says, “I’m a storyteller not a commentator. I just stick to the facts. And let the viewer form their own opinions. I am proud to work in a PIX 11 newsroom that still holds that value closely,” said Scott. “Above everything else, we must put accuracy and truth before anything else. We’d rather be last, but accurate. That is the essence of journalism.”
In 2017, Scott published the award-winning book, As I Saw It: A Reporter’s Intrepid Journey, a collection of the more unique stories and interviews he’s done over the past half-century.
A native of the Bronx, Scott was added to the Bronx Walk of Fame and the Bronx Jewish Hall of Fame. Nov. 29, 2010, was declared Marvin Scott Day in Manhattan, in commemoration of his 50th anniversary in broadcasting. On June 13, 2014, Scott was inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
He is also an accomplished photographer whose work has been exhibited in New York galleries. A photo he took of President John F. Kennedy is in the Library of Congress.
Scott is married to the former Lorri Gorman. He is the father of two adult children, Steven and Jill, and three grandchildren. A fixture of the East End for more than 30 years, Scott and his wife enjoy spending a good part of their summers in East Quogue.
“The East End of Long Island is special, it is relaxing and comforting being away from the daily pressures of news deadlines,” Scott reflects, looking forward to the summer ahead.
Even after half a century, Scott has a passion for his work.
“I have done so many stories and afterward thought I had seen it all, until the next shocker breaks. On any given day I could be reporting on a world-changing event, or I could meet an extraordinary human being, and I get to tell their stories to the world. I don’t think I will ever tire of that gift.”
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.