UCLA Spotlight


Hal Fishman, Newsman

  • By Judy Lin Eftekhar
  • Published Oct 1, 2002 8:00 AM

Hal Fishman has been a newsman for so long — 42 years — that not only did he cover the historic falling of the Berlin Wall in 1989, but, he notes, "I was in Berlin when the wall went up in 1961." He has traveled the globe to cover the news. At home in Los Angeles, he has reported on: The Baldwin Hills dam collapse. The Watts Riots. Vietnam War protests. The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. The Sylmar and Northridge earthquakes. The O.J. Simpson trial. The Rodney King beating, a story which KTLA broke with Fishman's help.

It all started with his graduate education at UCLA, where he received his M.A. in political science in 1956, passed his doctoral exams and was on his way to completing his dissertation. He planned for a career as a college professor. For two years, in fact, he was an assistant professor of political science at California State University, Los Angeles.

Then, in the summer of 1960, television called. Local station KCOP invited him to teach an on-air course, "American Political Parties in Politics," tied in with an important event in L.A. that same summer: The Democratic National Convention that would nominate John F. Kennedy for President.

Not only did Fishman enjoy teaching the course but, he later learned, "People were tuning in all over town to watch. So management realized, 'Hey, this guy's getting a rating.' They invited me to come on their news and anchor my own little segment."

Now the longest-running news anchor in the history of television, Fishman has been on the air continuously since June 20, 1960, moving from KCOP to KTLA in 1965. He has helped bring coveted Emmy and Peabody Awards to KTLA-TV and, himself, is the winner of numerous awards, including the Associated Press Television-Radio Association's first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.

Fishman credits UCLA for some of his success.

"My experience at UCLA prepared me magnificently for the job I have today," says Fishman. "My preparation at UCLA was invaluable to my career in bringing the news and the events of the day to the people. I still count on that experience in almost every single broadcast I do and every commentary I write."

So convinced is he of the positive contribution of his education to his work that when he talks to students in journalism classes, "I tell them that one of the best preparations you can have for television or a career in journalism is to study political science. What we need in news and in broadcasting are people who know what's going on in everything from public administration to international relations."

Currently, Fishman is very involved in informing the public about the upcoming ballot regarding San Fernando Valley and Hollywood secession from the city of Los Angeles.

"Secession is one of the most crucial issues to face our community in a long time," Fishman says. "The ramifications are far-reaching for the future of the city of Los Angeles. It's very important to consider this carefully."

On October 19, Fishman returns to his alma mater to serve as moderator at "Secession: The Last Word," a community forum featuring academic and civic leaders.