No Holy Water Here
Summary: A water-main break forces Catholic religious education classes at one school to be -- gasp -- canceled! Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Janelle Hall When It Aired: Oct. 28 Running Time: 12 seconds Visuals: A graphic of water gushing from a pipe. Highlights: * When Hall reports, "A water-main break has canceled morning CCD classes at Holy Angels Church, on Baldwin Road in West Homestead." * When she repeats, "Once again, no CCD classes this morning at Holy Angels Church in West Homestead." What We Learned: Nothing goes unnoticed by the sharp reporters at WTAE. Unanswered Question: If there were fewer water-main breaks, would local news spend more time reporting, you know, news? News Value: 0. Thank goodness -- or God, if you prefer -- for Saturday-morning "news." The laughter it evokes in me is lengthening my lifespan. You should watch it for the same reason.
Truth in Advertising?
Summary: Can you believe what you hear and see in political ads on TV? Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Bob Mayo When It Aired: Oct. 28 Running Time: 2 minutes, 38 seconds Visuals: * Scenes from one ad, which show, among other things: a missile launching; side-by-side photos of Casey and Kim Jong Il (my personal favorite); and black-and-white footage of an explosion, with a huge mushroom cloud. Highlights: * When Hall teases, "Love 'em or hate 'em, can you believe those political ads you see on TV? The truth check coming up." * When Hall introduces the story: "Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race is getting even hotter. Senator Rick Santorum's campaign is back on the air with a brand-new ad dealing with national security and his opponent, Bob Casey." * When Mayo asserts, "The latest ad by Senator Rick Santorum targets opponent Bob Casey with powerful images and claims. It suggests voters are taking a chance if they vote for his opponent." * When Mayo unpacks the ad, statement by statement, first showing us a clip that claims, "North Korea. Close to a nuclear missile to reach America." Mayo concludes for viewers, "Incomplete." He elaborates, "North Korea tested a non-nuclear, long-range missile in July. It failed 40 seconds into the air. The admiral in charge of American forces in Asia says he doesn't believe North Korea has a missile that can reach long distances." * When Mayo shows another ad bite, which claims, "Iran, also close," and calls it, too, "incomplete. We found no source saying Iran is close to a nuclear missile to reach America. Intelligence officials believe Iran is committed to getting a nuclear weapon and developing ballistic missiles to target Israel." * Another clip, in which the male voice chosen to read the ad -- no doubt for his fear-mongering tone -- claims, "China, drilling oil just 50 miles off our coast." Mayo says this one is "correct," explaining, "Cuba enlisted China and other countries to drill in Cuban waters 50 miles off of the Florida Keys." * When Mayo promises, "We'll be continuing our 'Commitment 2000' ad checks in the days leading up to the election." What We Learned: City Paper's Chris Potter may have pledged to stop writing about Rick Santorum if he loses Nov. 7, but I didn't. (Which is just why you love reading CP so much, isn't it?) Unanswered Question: "Incomplete" or "correct," does it really matter when you go to the poll -- if you go to the poll? News Value: 5. I like Mayo's myth-busting, and I'm glad he dissected this particularly outlandish Santorum ad. But with so many political ads running, how could Mayo, or we, keep up? And to what end does the truth he presents serve? Has it changed -- or even opened -- your mind at all?
Ants in His Pants
Summary: Continuing coverage of the firefighter who purportedly became a little too rowdy at a Steelers game. Station: WPXI Channel 11 Reporter: Kimberly Easton, "Live" When It Aired: Oct. 25 Running Time: 1 minute, 52 seconds Visuals: * The tagline, "Obscene Outburst?" * Easton reporting from just outside WPXI studios, on Television Hill. Highlights: * When anchor David Johnson previews, "A Pittsburgh fire lieutenant accused of an obscene outburst facing charges now in court." * When Easton reports, "[This] 39-year-old [man], the firefighter accused of exposing himself at a Pittsburgh Steelers football game, held his head down in shame. ... [He] is accused of exposing himself to this woman, who worked the concession stand." * When Easton reminds us that this "is the very latest" on this compelling [cough, cough] story. What We Learned: You can't start a fire, you can't start a fire without a spark, this gun's for hire ... Unanswered Question: David, do you really want Kimberly to show us what happened? News Value: 1. I tried, but I just couldn't bring myself to care. Not that I tried very hard.