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This Just In: August 14 - 21 

It's Enough to Drive You to Drink

 

Summary: A new group enters the drink/property tax debate! Reporter: Marc Willis, WPXI Channel 11 Airtime: 1 minutes, 41 seconds on Aug. 7 Visuals: * Assorted scenes along Shadyside's bustling Walnut Street. Highlights: * When Willis introduces his story from the North Side: "Allegheny County residents will have a choice to make, and a new citizen group with an odd name wants to make sure voters make an informed decision about the drink tax." * When Willis leads into the canned (or bottled, if you prefer), portion of the piece: "Shadyside neighbors who like to hang out on the corner in front of Jitters Cafe are talking. The conversation today is about an issue that's been in the news." * When a woman flailing her arms rants, "I don't want the taxes raised on property! The drink tax is fine! Fifty cents doesn't hurt me -- $500 would!" * When a Pittsburgh business and homeowner, who says he already pays $5,000 a year in property taxes on his home, explains: "I'd rather pay [the] drink tax, because property taxes are at an all-time high in Allegheny County." * When Willis explains, "He's afraid that if a referendum by a group of restaurant and bar owners goes on the November ballot asking to lower the drink tax to one-half of 1 percent passes, the county will in turn increase property taxes." * When Willis says, "Thursday, a group called CARTOP, or Citizens Against Raising Taxes on Property, announced their plan to challenge the restaurant and bar owners' referendum." * When local politico Shawn Flaherty blubbers, "We're gonna be doin' two things. We're gonna be urging the public to vote no on the drink-tax initiative if you own property in Allegheny County, and two, we're gonna take a hard look at whether or not this is even fair to put on the ballot." * When Willis reminds us, "Now county officials have said that Harrisburg gave them two choices to raise money for the Port Authority: either a drink tax, or raising property taxes." What We Learned: CARTOP may be the worst local organization acronym yet. Unanswered Question: How about a group that starts suggesting homeowners -- especially the seniors who insist on living in giant estates they no longer need because their children have gone -- scale down a little? (I'm such a blasphemer!) News Value: 3. Just what we need -- another special-interest group that consists mostly of lawyers, developers and real-estate people. And Willis' uninspired take makes me want to drink a tall, cold one.

Self-Contained Underwater Breathing 

Summary: A traffic and transportation reporter takes a scuba lesson and promotes the PPG Festival of Water at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Reporter: Jim Lokay, KDKA’s "Pittsburgh Today Live" Airtime: 5 minutes, 30 seconds on Aug. 8 Visuals: * Lokay wiggling around in a wet suit at the bottom of the pool, attempting to remain stationary during the interview, and doing a decent job of it. * A silly-looking shark-puppet that someone behind-camera keeps moving in front of the aquarium to make it look "real." Ha, ha, ha. Highlights: * When Lokay, in his first-ever underwater broadcast, asks the pool tour coordinator, “Why do people scuba? What's the attraction to it?” He answers, "It's one of the most relaxing sports in the world.” * Lokay continues, "And this is something that the whole family can get into?”"The coordinator responds, "Absolutely. We can certify anyone from 10 years [old] and above." * When Lokay addresses the loud, breathy and bubbly noises heard throughout the interview: "You certainly have to measure your speech when you're talking under water." * When anchor Brenda Waters muses, "Maybe I'll become certified," and Lokay responds, "You’re already certified, babe." What We Learned: I haven’t heard this much heavy breathing on local TV news since Andrew Stockey of WTAE flew with the Blue Angels. Unanswered Question: Why can’t more reporters measure their speech when they’re above water? News Value: 5. Entertainment Value: 10. This was just groovy -- Lokay does the entire interview underwater -- and it certainly makes me want to take my kids to the aquarium. I so heart you, Jim Lokay.

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