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SAGE Publications

Cover Image: Writing Broadcast News — Shorter, Sharper, Stronger:  A Professional Handbook,  3rd Edition
  • Date: 11/30/2010
  • Format: Print Cloth
  • Price: $65.00
  • ISBN: 978-1-60871-417-9
  • Pages: 237
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Writing Broadcast News — Shorter, Sharper, Stronger: A Professional Handbook, 3rd Edition
Mervin Block

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The ability to write well is an applicant's most prized skill, according to surveys of broadcast news directors. To ensure that your students' writing skills are well honed, there is no better handbook to turn to than this newly updated third edition of Writing Broadcast News. Mervin Block- who has written for the best in the business- offers timeless advice, guiding both first-year students and seasoned professionals through the essentials of writing for the ear.

With countless scripts collected from writing workshops in newsrooms across the country, this resource is studded with insightful- and at times entertaining- comments, suggestions and much-needed corrections. Readers will find Block's clear and incisive voice coming through in the expanded "Top Tips of the Trade" and the "Dozen Deadly Sins"—reminding us that mistakes can be our best teachers. New "WordWatcher" boxes highlight the challenges in writing for print versus broadcast. 

Formats Available from CQ Press
ISBN: 978-1-60871-417-9 Format: Print Cloth Retail Price: $65.00 Price to Bookstores: $52.00
New to this Edition

What’s new to this edition:

  • New and updated “Top Tips of the Trade” 
  • Reorganization of chapters under three “Parts”: Rules, Style and Best Practices
  • Better labeling of chapters and headings, with helpful annotations in the Table of Contents so readers can find exactly what they need, when they need it.
  • New WordWatcher boxes that highlight the differences of writing for the eye vs. the ear.
  • The addition of pull-quotes to help underscore important key points.
  • Updated Bibliography and expanded Index for easy reference.

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Washington, DC 20037
Table of Contents


1. Dozen Deadly Don'ts: Missteps and mistakes that mar scripts
2. Venial Sins: More mistakes that hurt copy
3. Top Tips of the Trade: 40 tips from the field that lead to better writing

4. Style: Tips to develop your writing style
5. Lead-ins, Lead-outs and Leading Questions: On starting strong and finishing well in broadcast stories
6. Attributions: Who Says? How to quote people and attribute facts in broadcast scripts
7. Words Part I: Put in a Good Word: How to find the right word at the write time
8. Words Part II: Eliminate the Journalese: How to write plainly and clearly for stronger scripts
9. After Words-After Math: A lesson on numbers for wordly writers
10. Bad News: Characterizing news is bad- and tips for sports and weather scripts
11. Noosepapers: Dangers of fishing for a fast fact in a print story

12. The Art of Rewriting: Why rewriting is an essential skill
13. My Least Worst: Rewrites of scripts written by the author
14. Your Turn: Scripts and rewrites to test your skills
15. All Else: Q&A with the author on the "tricks" of broadcast writing




Dear Mr. Block, after graduation from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in political science in 1988, I decided to pursue television journalism. You were my teacher. Of course, you didn’t know it because we’ve never talked or exchanged e-mails. Your book, Writing Broadcast News, taught me how to write and, more important, re-write. I still have a copy at my desk and have recommended it to dozens of people. I tell you this now, because I'm leaving for New York to accept a duPont Award, and I owe you a much overdue thank-you. (Jan. 20, 2009)

- Doug Smith, investigative reporter, WTVT-TV, Tampa

"Mervin Block is an old pro at television newswriting from whom anyone could learn a lot. I know I have. His clinic, criticism, and instruction offer the writer of news a wonderful opportunity for improvement."

- Charles Kuralt, CBS News

"I learned to write for broadcast just by reading a previous edition of this book."

- Dan Harris, co-anchor, Good Morning America Weekend, ABC News

"In this age of text, tweet and 24-hour news channels, good writing is vanishing. That's what makes this book more important now than when first published in 1987. It’s a classic."

- Robert Mulholland, former president and CEO, NBC

"Merv Block's skills were forged by tough Chicago newspaper editors, shaped by the networks and polished during his years as a teacher. In a field that demands instant excellence, he's a paragon."

- John Chancellor, NBC News

"When I start my new job at KTVT in Dallas, I will make sure that all of the producers and reporters working with me have read Writing Broadcast News-Shorter, Sharper, Stronger. Thank you for setting high standards in an industry that needs them more than ever."

- Lisa Blegen, executive producer, Special Projects & Investigations, KTVT-TV, Dallas

"Mervin Block is one of the most insightful, thoughtful teachers of writing I have met in my 18 years at Columbia Journalism School. I encourage every writer (and student) in any medium to grab this book and read it carefully to become a better writer."

- Sree Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs, Columbia University Journalism School

"Merv Block knows more about newswriting than almost anyone. He knows how to put words together so that the idea comes across clearly. Merv is both a skilled practitioner and an able diagnostician. He knows what medicine to prescribe for an ailing paragraph, what vitamins to recommend for an anemic sentence.

- Charles Osgood, CBS News

Writing Broadcast News is the most powerful tool a veteran or student newswriter could own. It belongs in the newsroom and the classroom. This book has taught me how to weed out the wordiness and write conversationally. It is required reading for anyone who works in my newsroom. Just absorbing Merv’s 'Dozen Deadly Don’ts' will push you to the next level!"

- Chris Little, News Director, KFI AM640 Radio, Los Angeles

"Crisp, clear and to the point--with fabulous examples--that’s how Merv writes and how he teaches others to write. Our journalism students love his top tips of the trade and often amusing examples of classic writing mistakes. The journalism faculty love Writing Broadcast News too--it makes teaching so much easier!"

- Marcy McGinnis, Associate Dean, School of Journalism, Stony Brook University

“Block's ruthless, sarcastic and funny directives for getting to the point -- forged in the fires of broadcast news, where every second and every syllable count -- are all the more useful now, when almost everyone is in essence, as Ebert notes, writing broadcast news. Every newsroom should bake into its culture Block's "Dozen Deadly Don'ts"

- Charlie Meyerson, principal at Meyerson Strategy

“News writing guru Mervin Block explains this matter much more eloquently, coherently, and persuasively than I can. Please visit his site to learn more [:] www.mervinblock.com. I also urge you to make his book, [WBN], a must read each year with a written test to follow for anyone calling your newsroom home.”

- Nick Winkler, NewsBlues

"Block's ruthless, sarcastic and funny directives for getting to the point -- forged in the fires of broadcast news, where every second and every syllable count -- are all the more useful now, when almost everyone is in essence, as Ebert notes, writing broadcast news. Every newsroom should bake into its culture Block's "Dozen Deadly Don'ts"

http://www.meyersonstrategy.com/2014/01/writing-about-writing-my-favorites-so.html - Charlie Meyerson, Award-winning broadcast journalist
Mervin Block
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 freelancer at NBC News. He 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, Diane Sawyer, Bob Schieffer, Robert Trout and Mike Wallace. Block teaches newswriting workshops at TV and radio newsrooms around the country. In 2004, the Chicago Press Veterans Association chose him as Press Veteran of the Year.
Sample Pages

For Students:

Thinking about being a broadcast journalist? Watch Merv Block's video first!

Writing Broadcast News, 3rd Edition + Broadcast Newswriting, 2nd Edition + Rewriting Network News + Writing News for TV and Radio: 9781483364452, $121

Writing Broadcast News, 3rd Edition + Broadcast Newswriting, 2nd Edition:9781452202808, $72

Writing Broadcast News, 3rd Edition + Writing News for TV and Radio: 9781483364414, $70

Writing Broadcast News, 3rd Edition + Rewriting Network News: 9781483364407, $68