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Review: Weighing Anchors by Mervin Block

Long-time network newswriter Mervin Block doesn't just watch and hear evening newscasts; he listens. Block, who wrote for Walter Cronkite and other anchors at ABC, CBS and NBC, examines today’s network anchors, their scripts and their journalism. Instead of writing about anchors' delivery, wardrobe or favorite desserts, he points out distortions, deceptions, discrepancies and abuses of broadcast writing style. Block shows how newscasters fudge facts, tinker with time, label stories exclusive that aren't, use grammatical errors, present old news as breaking news, exaggerate medical stories and hammer home hype.

Block's sharp wit will leave you amused, fuming and shaking your head over today's network anchors. Reinforced with tips, tests and quizzes, Weighing Anchors gives anyone who watches the evening news the tools and insights to identify write from wrong.

This is one of those books that if you are a stickler for grammar or someone who has chosen not to watch your evening news because you don’t think it’s newsworthy, than you will find this book amusing, informative and interesting. From the perspective of the Veteran newswriter, Mervin Block, he has highlighted some aspects of the news that gives us a behind the scenes look at a few things that will make you watch and listen differently the next time you tune in to your favorite network anchors.

What happened to the days of Edward R Murrow and Walter Cronkite? You know, the days when a journalist penned their story to paper with the defined who, what, where, how and why. Forget about spell check and satellite cameras, grammar and facts were the vitals to your credibility to the public and as a journalist. The broadcasters were your eyes and ears depending on the era to get the story correct and accurate because there was a value on presenting the facts when it exactly happened and how. As your read his book, you will see those days are long gone. 

What is interesting about his book is how you get a different perspective of the top news anchors. You are so used to hearing things said a certain way that you don’t notice the mistakes when they say them on air. When there’s a breaking news story, many just assume that it’s happening right now when in many times fact it isn’t. The public relies on the news to be factual but never take in consideration questioning the source of its origin. He gives in his book actual lines of script and inside information that explains how much of what we see and hear may not be exactly what we think by suggesting that some stories are manufactured or just recycled old news that are made to look exclusive.

There are few more interesting topics he discusses in the book but I’m not one to give away too much, so I will leave it up to your curiosity. If you are a news junkie or someone who is curious about the behind the scenes, this book will give you much to think about watching your next broadcast.

Reviewed by Michelle Bowles

Book Information
Publisher: Marion Street Press
Release Date: 9/12/12
Pages: 228

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