This Just In: December 11 - 18 | This Just In | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

This Just In: December 11 - 18

The Santaland Dire-ies

Summary: It's a hard-knock season for Santa this year. Reporter: David Highfield, KDKA Channel 2 Airtime: 2 minutes, 25 seconds on Dec. 5 Visuals: * Headlines recounting tough times from some New York City papers: "It's a Lost Clause: No Room at Mall for Poor Santa" and "Glum Tidings: Santa Gets Sacked as Cities, Companies Look to Save." Highlights: * When anchor Kristine Sorensen bears these bad tidings: "Looks like the bad economy is putting the squeeze on some holiday plans, from parties to employment for Santa's helpers -- there's some definite changes this year." * When Highfield says, "Well Kristine, we learned tonight about fewer jobs for Santa's helpers. We also learned about companies that are either scaling back Christmas parties, or canceling them altogether. Just two more signs that for many people this year, Christmas is on a budget." He adds, "For 40 years now, John Neff of Shaler has been one of Santa's helpers. But he tells me things are different this year." * When Neff observes, "Oh definitely, I've seen a difference. Definitely, uh, we're less busy this year, less demand for Santa private parties and office parties." * When Highfield reports, "Both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post have recently reported on other Santa's helpers also feeling the pinch of an economic Grinch." * When Neff relates, "People have to feed themselves, but Santa has to feed the reindeer too, you know, so, it's tough all over." * When Highfield presents conflicting evidence: "But at, not so tough. In fact, Bob Mindte tells me, they've seen their best business ever. He believes [it's] because Santa's helpers become even more important during tough times." * When Mindte reports, via phone, "Santa is a feel-good type of entertainment. ... [P]eople say, 'Hey, let's at least have a few days of good fun.'" * When Highfield goes local, "Holiday parties are fun, but some companies and groups are scaling back or skipping them altogether. At D'Imperio's in Wilkins Township, they've had some cancellations." * When restaurant owner Tony D'Imperio says, "They said that they've laid some people off and even though they could afford the party this year, it wasn't an issue of financing, uh, it was a matter of not feeling right." * When Highfield ends, "And late tonight, I talked to one more of Santa's helpers. He is from Elizabeth: I talked to him on the phone. He says he deals mostly with charities, but he has had some churches cancel on him this year." What We Learned: That it's tough times for Santa's helpers -- or not! Unanswered Question: But what about the elves? Have you no compassion for the elves? News Value: 2. There's no question we're in an economic slump -- but this story serves more to confuse than enlighten.