Mark Herz’s Murrow

To many Americans, Edward R. Murrow is a vague name — a pioneering journalist or something.

To Mark Herz, he’s a professional inspiration — and the name on an award that Herz just won.

Herz — a Staples graduate, WSHU Public Radio reporter and local host of “All Things Considered” — has won a prestigious 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for a story called “Policing the Mentally Ill.”

Mark Herz (left) accepts his Edward R. Murrow Award from "60 Minutes" correspondent Bob Simon.

The honor — bestowed by the Radio Television Digital News Association — came in the Audio News Series category.

Herz’s 2-part story explored how police are trained to deal with mentally ill people.  The 1st piece took listeners to a session where officers experience what it’s like to hear auditory hallucinations.  The 2nd brought listeners on patrol with a charismatic New Haven officer, who put his training into practice.

The sounds and voices were perfect for radio, Herz says.  The piece also benefited from Herz’s own background:  While in school, he studied psychiatry.

Before he became a cop, Ray Hassett — the man Herz rode with — was an actor.  “He’s streetwise and gruff,” Herz says.  “He can be tough and intimidating when he has to.”

Because Hassett commented so skillfully on his work with mentally ill people, Herz decided to structure the piece without narration.  “That takes a lot more work,” the reporter pointed out.  “But it turned out to be a great package.”

His 1st national award was “extremely gratifying,” Herz says.

“Journalism is like a 2nd life for me.  It’s nice to get this kind of validation.”

(This is not Mark Herz’s only award this year.  He earned 2 first prizes from the Connecticut Associated Press Broadcasters Association, for “Policing the Mentally Ill” and “Yale Carillon.”)

8 responses to “Mark Herz’s Murrow

  1. Congratulations to Mark!

  2. Congratulations, Mark!

  3. Congratulations Mark!

  4. Francoeur Luisa

    Congratulations to Mark for a piece that educates the listener to the reality of mental illness.
    There are programs available on Mental Health First Aid, just the way there are “traditional” First Aid courses. Paste this address into your browser:

    Mental Health First Aid is a 12-hour interactive course that presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders in the U.S. and introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments. Those who take the course to certify as Mental Health First Aiders learn a 5-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care.

  5. Linda Gramatky Smith

    I love that you, Dan, tell us about all the inspiring Staples graduates who have gone on to really help this world. A huge congratulations to Mark Herz!

  6. Congratulations and thanks, Mark, for your daily presence on WSHU as well.

  7. Gerry Kuroghlian

    Congratulations Mark. We knew you were a winner when we first heard your sonorous voice on WSHU!!

  8. Also anonymous....

    Mark’s mother, Sara Herz, was a dedicated Westport Public School Teacher during the 1970’s at Bedford Middle School.

    I was fortunate to have Mrs. Herz for 8th grade English at Bedford Middle, which is now Saugatuck Elementary.

    “The dignity and self respect for the individual” was Bedford’s theme for the ’77 – ’78 school year.

    The class read “All Quiet on the Western Front” and discussed the books theme and tied it to our annual class theme.

    Mrs. Herz engaged the class and delivered this theme with empathy and meaning throughout ’77-’78 at Bedford.

    I’m not surprise her son Mark has won the Murrow Award. Congratulations.