"All Things Considered" Host Talks Radio, Competitive Media Culture

Millions of Americans hear her voice on the radio each week, but members of the Harvard community had a chance to see National Public Radio reporter and “All Things Considered” host Melissa J. Block ’83 speak in person on Monday afternoon.

Block, who has co-hosted the daily news program since 2003, delivered a lecture at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study titled “‘All Things Considered’ Considered.” During the talk, Block reflected on her career in journalism and the changes facing the industry as it becomes increasingly digital.

In an interview before the talk, Block told The Crimson she hoped she would teach her audience more about the radio industry.

“[I hope they] stop and think about what makes radio special, to some extent,” Block said. “It’s something I’ve devoted my entire working life to and am very protective of and passionate about.”

Block encorporated several audio clips into her talk. Block gave the audience a glimpse into a day in the life of the production team of “All Things Considered,” as well as several clips from past reports. One clip featured Block interviewing a family that had been searching for their son soon after the May 2008 earthquake that hit Chengdu, China. Block said the clip served as an example of “intimate storytelling,” something Block said NPR especially values.

“We really like to let our best stories breathe,” Block said. “Even as our attention spans shrink and our thoughts are boiled down into 140-character tweets, we [still believe we can] keep our listener hooked and actively engaged with dynamic storytelling.”

Block also discussed the rise of the competitive media culture, in which news outlets race to report breaking news first. She emphasized the importance of careful and accurate reporting despite the competition.

Harold N. Eyster ’16 said he appreciated the opportunity to hear Block’s take on the news industry.

“I’ve always listened to Melissa Block on the radio and thought it would be great to see her in person and hear her reflections on her role in radio,” he said.

­—Staff writer Madeline R. Conway can be reached at mconway@college.harvard.edu. Follow her on Twitter @MadelineRConway.

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