This Just In: April 2 - 9 

R.I.P. Big Mo

Summary: A beloved animal is no more. Station: KDKA Channel 2 Reporter: Kristine Sorensen When it Aired: March 28 Running Time: 22 seconds Visuals: * A still portrait of "Big Mo," a tortoise whose irrepressible joie de vivre practically leaps off the screen, in the tall, green grass. Highlights: * When Sorensen eulogizes, "It's a sad day for the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Their oldest resident, ‘Big Mo,' the yellow-footed tortoise, died this week. Big Mo was 75 years old. Zoo officials say he was very popular with visitors, especially children." * When she recollects, "Big Mo came to the zoo in 1972. Before his death, he was treated for a respiratory infection, which zoo officials say is common for older reptiles." What We Learned: In time, we shell overcome this loss. Unanswered Question: Does he leave any relatives behind? News Value: 4. There's a gaping hole in my heart, Big Mo. I'll never forget that time I visited and you moved. I think.


Arsenic and Old Shoelaces

Summary: Can a pad you wear on your feet at night get the lead out? Station: WPXI Channel 11 Reporter: Stacia Erdos When it Aired: March 30 Running Time: 2 minutes, 35 seconds Visuals: * Scenes from one of those commercials of the campy genre, which shows a pair of feet wearing the "detoxifying" pads while the feet's owner lies in bed. * Models in the ad peeling the pads off and discovering them to be heavily soiled! Highlights: * When weekend anchor Danielle Nottingham proclaims, "One of the hottest products out right now claims you can get toxins out of your body by simply wearing a pad on your foot at night." * When Erdos erupts, "The ads are everywhere: Detoxify your body by wearing special pads on your feet at night. The claim is you'll be energized, regain your health." * When a WPXI staffer confesses, "It made me wonder -- that's why I wanted to try them." * When Erdos follows, "The commercials made us wonder, too. ... [F]irst, we talked to a national expert on toxins, Dr. Devra Davis of the University of Pittsburgh Environmental Oncology Center." * When Dr. Davis offers, "There are pollutants in our bodies today, some of which did not exist when we were born. Getting metals out of your body is not a simple thing. ... These patches basically contain green tea and vinegar, and you know, vinegar is one of the things people have used for thousands of years, as well for a benefit to the system because it can promote digestion. So, the ingredients look fine. The fact that it's made in China gives me some concern." * When a WPXI staffer/guinea pig describes her experience: "Shortly after they were put on, I put the socks over them, my feet started to sweat instantly," and then describes her morning-after reaction: "They stunk very badly ... and they looked gross." * When Erdos persists, "But did the pads draw toxins from her body? We had a local lab test the pad that was worn by [our staffer], test another one that was worn by another person, also an unused pad and one that we placed right on the front of a warm dishwasher. ... And what did this small, unscientific test show? No difference between the unused pad and the three used pads." * When Dr. Davis pronounces, "The simplest way to detoxify the body is to lose weight." What We Learned: If it looks too silly to be true, it probably is. Unanswered Question: Will you please-please-please test that ExtenZe next? News Value: 3. I laughed my ass off the first time I saw the commercial for this on television. The story was only slightly better.


One Less Place to Play

Summary: The Center for Creative Play in Regent Square is closing. Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Janelle Hall When it Aired: March 28 Running Time: 1 minute, 47 seconds Visuals: * Inside the center's bright, open play center, abuzz with the sound of children doing what they do best -- playing. Highlights: * When Hall reports: "After 13 years of business, the Center for Creative Play off of the Parkway East in Regent Square will close for good on Sunday because of financial problems." * When Hall reports, "45,000 people came to play here in the past year, including children with disabilities who can learn and socialize with their peers." * When a mom says, "My heart sunk, because ... my older daughter was born a preemie and this has been just incredible for her with her sensory issues and physical development." * When another mom laments, "We're so sorry that this place is going to close down." * What We Learned: Things the hard way. Unanswered Question: Will someone -- and who -- step in to save the Center? News Value: 2. This piece appeals to our emotions, but what's missing are some financial facts. Parents are hoping to save the place with a donation. I hope so, too.

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