As a journalist, Greg Pratt was fearless, tenacious and curious. Combined with his passion for storytelling and his keen ability to put words and pictures together, Pratt tackled compelling topics in the award-winning documentaries he produced for WCCO-TV's "Moore Report" and PBS' "Frontline."
"He was brilliant," said former WCCO-TV anchor Don Shelby. "The 'Moore Report' was the gold standard, and everybody in the business around the country knew it. Greg brought a wonderful eye and style to the 'Moore Report.' "
Pratt was most recently a professor of business English and communications at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea. He was in Florida visiting his father when he suffered a fatal heart attack Jan. 28. He was 64.
Pratt, who grew up in the Buffalo, N.Y., area, earned his graduate degree at the University of Minnesota. While there, he was part of University Community Video, a group of producers who explored how video cameras and editing technologies could revolutionize documentary programming.
Pratt made his mark at WCCO-TV from 1979 to 1985. During his six years at Channel 4, he introduced viewers to Hmong refugees who had settled in Minnesota.
A methodical researcher, Pratt tackled topics ranging from abortion and runaway teens to water quality and women's pay equity. In his "Feast of the Giants" report for WCCO, Pratt exposed how Cargill and other large food-processing companies were skirting a U.S. embargo and selling grain to Russia.
"He chose to shine a light on stories that were not always in the daily headlines, but were important for public awareness," said Nancy Mate, who was the assistant director of public affairs at WCCO during Pratt's tenure. "He wanted to help viewers see and understand the people behind the stories, their struggles and the challenges of their lives"
Pratt was one of the first Western journalists to gain extended access to Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. He spent six weeks producing "The Hollow Victory: Vietnam Under Communism." The documentary won a 1984 Peabody Award for transcending censorship and providing a modern look at a country rife with contradictions. "This production is truly exemplary for a local television station," the Peabody's website said.
His love of fly fishing, skiing and the mountains drew him to Montana in 1985. He teamed up with his ex-wife, Jan Falstad, and launched his own company called Production West, through which he produced "Yellowstone Under Fire" for "Frontline." Next came "On Earth as it is in Heaven," one of three documentaries featured in Bill Moyer's 1989 Emmy-winning series, "God and Politics."
"He had incredible talent. He could take a mountain of material and see how it fit together," said Falstad. "He had the innate sense of how to tell a story."
Some of Pratt's work is archived at the Minnesota Historical Society, the University of Georgia Peabody collection and the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Honors include Scripps-Howard Public Service in Television, a National Association of Television Programming Executives Iris Award and UPI Documentary award.
"Greg's work truly exemplified the best of documentary filmmaking," said cameraman and friend Dave Bowden, of Denver. "Pratt's humor and talent enriched many lives and his documentaries enlightened audiences in Minnesota and beyond."
Pratt is survived by his father, Eugene, of Clearwater, Fla.; brothers E. Douglas Pratt, of Roswell, Ga., David Pratt, of Grand Island, N.Y., and Michael Pratt, of Williamsville, N.Y.; and sister Marcia Martin, of Dallas.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. March 13 at Dengler, Roberts, Perna Funeral Home in Williamsville, N.Y.