Steve Hartman: Bob Simon was so good he made me jealous

NEW YORK -- I had what you might call a love-hate relationship with Bob Simon. I loved the way he told a story. And I hated that I could never do it as well. If that's jealousy, so be it. I was a little jealous. And I wasn't alone. Believe me, there's not a reporter in this business - at any network - who hasn't at one point or another in his career, wanted to be like Bob.

For years, I actually tried to dissect his work. I used to watch his story - rewind the tape and watch it again - a dozen times.

The Lost Boys, part one
This one, about the Lost Boys of Sudan, I have practically memorized. Any reporter could have shown you the picture, but only Bob could take you there with his words.

"Streams of boys became rivers," said Simon. "Hundreds became thousands - until an exodus of biblical proportions was underway."

I studied his stories hoping that if I just listened closely enough for long enough, I could be like him. I never told Bob that. He was actually a hard man to compliment. Every time you tried to he would always deflect the praise onto a producer, an editor or most often the subject.

He was a storyteller who always put the story ahead of the teller. And that's one thing I can take from him - that's the one thing we can all learn from Bob Simon. The guy had a way with words but he was mostly silent about himself. And in his passing, it's that quiet humility that echoes.

On Sunday's "60 Minutes" we will have another chance to see one more story from Bob Simon. And you can bet I will watch it - repeatedly.

  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.