Radio Television Digital News Association Looks at Mervin Block and His Latest Book, “Weighing Anchors”
After many years of writing columns critical of broadcast news writing, the former network news writer is now semi-retired, but still speaking out (and often freaking out) about newscasts — both network and local. “Many a script should be scrapped,” he groans.
Merv continues to criticize, and occasionally write about, faulty broadcast news scripts. He complains mightily about “poor writing, inaccuracies, deceptions, distortions, delinquencies and falsities; one of the falsest of all is often ‘breaking news;’ runners-up are ‘happening now’ and ‘keeping them honest.'”
Mervin Block is a broadcast writing coach and author. He has written news at three television networks: as a staff writer for the “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite” and the “ABC Evening News with Frank Reynolds” and as a freelance at NBC News.
Block has written news for Ed Bradley, Tom Brokaw, Walter Cronkite, Douglas Edwards, Charles Kuralt, Roger Mudd, Edwin Newman, Charles Osgood, Dan Rather, Harry Reasoner, Frank Reynolds, Marlene Sanders, Diane Sawyer, Bob Schieffer, Robert Trout and Mike Wallace.
Block’s latest book:
- “Weighing Anchors: When Network Newscasters Can’t Tell Write from Wrong.” (2012) Published by Marion Street Press.
Block’s other books:
- “Writing Broadcast News Shorter, Sharper, Stronger: A Professional Handbook,” 3rd ed., 2011
- “Broadcast Newswriting: The RTDNA Reference Guide,” 2nd ed., paperback, 2012 (co-pubished by the Radio Television Digital News Association)
- “Rewriting Network News: WordWatching Tips from 345 TV and Radio Scripts,” 2010
- “Writing News for TV and Radio” (with Joe Durso, Jr.), paperback, 2010
Those four books were published by CQ Press, a division of Sage Publications. Block worked as a newspaper reporter and editor in Chicago, served as executive news producer for WBBM-TV (CBS O&O), Chicago, and wrote and broadcast editorials for WNBC-TV (NBC O&O), New York City.
He won first prize three times for TV spot-news scripts in the annual competition of the Writers Guild of America.
Block wrote a monthly column on broadcast newswriting, “WordWatching,” for the RTNDA magazine, Communicator, for 13 years.
He taught broadcast newswriting (as a part-timer) at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism for 30 years. He also taught workshops in radio and television newsrooms in 45 states, Canada, London, and Singapore.
Previously, he taught journalism (print, then broadcast) at the University of Illinois, Urbana.
Block holds an M.S.J. from the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, and a certificate from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. At Medill, he received the Harrington Memorial Award as “the outstanding student [in the news-editorial sequence] in the graduate class.”
In 2004, the Chicago Press Veterans Association chose him as Press Veteran of the Year.
You can reach him at: merblo.aol.com.
[See what anchors and news execs say about him, his work and his workshops.]
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