The flagship of NBC O&O’s–WNBC-TV, New York City–recently ran aground. The problem began when the anchors of the 11 p.m. news introduced a story along with the story-teller. Here’s a challenge for you: point out whatever is amiss–before I do.
SIBILA VARGAS, co-anchor: Shopping mall horror. A car rams the entrance. People are stabbed, and another violent crime scene blocks away. [Where? New York City? Honolulu?]
VARGAS: Good evening, everyone. I’m Sibila Vargas.
SCARBOROUGH: And I’m Chuck Scarborough. Details are still coming into our newsroom at this hour, but we do know that at least three people are dead, including the suspect. [No hint yet that the crimes were committed 200 miles from Manhattan in another state.]
VARGAS: The chaos began around 7 o’clock tonight [May 10] in Taunton, Massachusetts, just south of Boston.
VARGAS: First, calls about a stabbing at a home. Then, about a stabbing at a nearby mall.
SCARBOROUGH: News 4’s Stefan Holt is in the newsroom gathering details for us.
HOLT: Thanks, Chuck and Sibila. We just heard from a news conference with the Bristol county district attorney, where they confirmed the name of the suspect in this [this?] stabbing that happened earlier today. [Whatever happened today had to happen earlier today.] Offa Darosa [Correct: Arthur DaRosa] 28 years old, is the suspect who was shot and killed during this altercation [Why use a four-syllable word when a one-syllable word can do the job?] that happened in Taunton, Massachusetts. It is a very fluid situation tonight. [I know what a fluid is, but what does that mean, things might change?]
HOLT: Two crime scenes in the town of Taunton, just about 50 minutes south of Boston, Mass. [Mass.? We don’t identify states with abbreviations.] Police believe a total of [Delete “a total of.”] four people were stabbed throughout the night. [Throughout means “in every part of, from the beginning to the end.”] Information has been trickling into the newsroom [That’s where the reporter is.] from the bloody scenes. A car crash. A stabbing. [Two women were stabbed in a home.] And it all ended with gunfire.
HOLT: Shoppers described the chaos, confusion, and fear. First, a car crashes through the front of a Macy’s store. [But Vargas had said, “First, calls about a stabbing at a home.] Then the driver goes on a stabbing spree.
HOLT: Police swarmed the Silver City Galleria. They found the male suspect had been shot and killed by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy.
HOLT: Just four miles away [Delete away.] from the mall, a second crime scene. Two women, a mother and adult daughter, found stabbed at a home. [Whose?] Police say the [a] call came just minutes before the stabbings at the mall. Tonight they’re trying to connect the dots [Kill that cliché.] and figure out why this happened.
HOLT: And just want to reiterate [That’s not a broadcast word; what’s wrong with repeat?] the suspect has been identified as 28-year-old Offa Derosa. We still don’t know anything about this suspect [Is there any other suspect?]. This [Referring to what?] just came out in a news conference moments ago. Although the Massachusetts state police says [Should be say.] there appears to be no nexus [Steer clear of fancy words; should be link or tie] to terrorism. That’s the only information we have about a motive tonight. [Delete tonight.]
HOLT: Just to reiterate [Again!], two people are dead [Stronger: two people were stabbed to death.]
in this stabbing attack. The suspect is also dead tonight. [Delete tonight.] Live at [at?] the very latest from the newsroom, I’m Stefan Holt, News 4 New York.
Next month, Holt is scheduled to co-anchor a new 4 p.m. newscast. Until late March, he anchored morning and midday newscasts at the NBC station (WMAQ-TV) in Chicago. When he left for New York, the station said he’s an “impeccable journalist.” His father is Lester Holt, anchor of NBC’s “Nightly News.”
Hmm. Relativity may be more than just a theory.
Mervin Block is the author of Writing Broadcast News Shorter, Sharper, Stronger: A Professional Handbook.
© Mervin Block 2016
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The Merv Block bookshelf on broadcast newswriting.
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“Writing Broadcast News” and “Broadcast Newswriting: The RTDNA Reference Guide”
“Rewriting Network News” and “Writing News for TV and Radio”
All four of Block’s books about newswriting: $121—a saving of $30.
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