Why a Workshop?

Better newswriting means better newscasts. In your quest for quality and in your unending house-to-house fight to capture listeners, nothing is more important than improving your staff's writing. That's because your newscasts are only as good as the writing.

Writing is the key element of a newscast, the spark that can make it come alive. Better writing means stories that are clearer and crisper, tighter and brighter.

Better writing enables listeners to grasp stories more easily. As word spreads, more people will be watching what you say. With better writing, you'll fit more stories into newscasts, making newscasts newsier.

Better writing also means better news for your viewers and for your station. And better writing gives your newscasts more vitality and authority.

If your newsroom is typical, your people aren't getting any outside help to improve their writing. Newspeople, like most other people, find it hard to improve when they have no one to learn from but themselves.

Now your station can provide a practical program on your premises: the Television Newswriting Workshop. (Or, at a radio station, the Broadcast Newswriting Workshop. As you may know, the techniques of writing news for radio and for TV are the same.) The Workshop will help your people gain new insights into writing news and will help them write news better—and make your newscasts better. The Workshop is professional and productive, yet lively, even enjoyable.

The Workshop provides a fresh approach by an outside specialist, Mervin Block. He knows how to help your staff acquire the techniques used by the best network anchors, reporters and writers. They know how to write for the ear, how to make every word count, how to write lead-ins and voice-overs that are good, not merely good enough. As your people apply these skills, they will write scripts that are shorter, sharper, stronger.

Your writers, reporters, producers and anchors, no matter how experienced, will benefit substantially. And so will your listeners and your station. So every newsroom can profit from better writing.


Everyone who writes and edits news. That includes spot news, features, investigations, sports and weather. Besides writers and editors: anchors, producers, stringers, trainees, interns and prospective staff members.

Typical Workshop Program Held at Your Station

9 a.m. Mervin Block tells your staff how to make scripts shorter, sharper, stronger.

  • He explains how to shift from writing for the eye to writing for the ear. And he reviews the basics of broadcast writing style. He points out ways to write better "tell" stories ("readers"), lead-ins and voice-overs. Also, teases.

    Mistakes are often our best teachers, so Mervin projects on a screen flawed scripts that have been broadcast around the country, some by TV and radio stations, some by networks. The scripts illustrate each of the Dozen Deadly Sins. And as Mervin displays the scripts, he also weaves in the Top Tips of the Trade.

10:45 a.m. 15-minute break.

11 a.m. Your own newsroom's scripts are put on the screen.

  • But no one is put on the spot: all names, initials and identifying marks have been deleted. (Mervin needs a week's worth of scripts at least 10 days in advance.) He discusses the scripts so your newspeople can learn from one another's mistakes and benefit from examples of good writing. On the good scripts, names are not blacked out, so those writers get to shine, or glow.

Noon Lunch (as a group, if you wish).

1 p.m. Mervin passes out copies of a wire story for everyone to rewrite in broadcast style.

  • As soon as writers turn in their copy, Mervin gives them a sheet with his version. Not the one true version, as he says, but one that's acceptable-—at least, by him. Then he projects the scripts (no names or initials) onto the screen, and he points out weaknesses and strengths. And how to make improvements.

    Your people write two or three more stories, depending on how many attend the session, and we proceed the same way.

3:45 p.m. Mervin goes over the key elements of writing news for broadcast and answers final questions.

  • The program is flexible, so it can start earlier or later, can be extended beyond one day and can focus on various problems to make the workshop work for you.

Also see: comments about Block and his workshop

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