This Just In: June 27 - July 4 | This Just In | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

This Just In: June 27 - July 4

Squirrel Deferral

Summary: An orn'ry varmint shuts down business for a spell. Station: KDKA Channel 2 Reporter: Ross Guidotti When it Aired: June 21 Running Time: 1 minute, 29 seconds Visuals: * A still of a squirrel crawling along aerial power lines under the caption, "Wildlife in the Wires." * Bewildered Kmart patrons, attempting to enter a locked store. Highlights: * When anchor Patrice King Brown explains what all the fuss is about: "Fifteen hundred Duquesne Light customers were plunged into darkness today in Beaver County. Now, this was before the storms. Skies were beautiful, and it left a lot of people asking, 'Why?' Well it turns out ... it was a matter of wildlife in the wires." * When Guidotti reports, "It was shortly before noon in parts of New Brighton as well as Rochester when the question of the day was, 'Who turned out the lights?'" * When Guidotti illuminates the hardship faced by area citizens: "[This woman] was one of dozens of people who walked up to the Rochester Kmart only to find themselves out of luck because the power was out in the store." * When Guidotti reveals the source of all this distress: "A squirrel apparently made its way into a transformer along Cleveland Street. The squirrel got its lights turned out for good right about when [this woman named Betty] was surfing on the Net." * When Betty explains, "I got online and everything went off. I didn't get to see my great-grandson. He's a couple days old and she was gonna send me a picture on the Internet. ... I just started crochetin' 'til everything went back on." What We Learned: You need electricity for a Blue Light Special. Unanswered Question: How can you be "plunged into darkness" in the daytime under "beautiful skies"? News Value: 2. Fried squirrel, anyone?

Car Wars

Summary: The ubertechies at CMU are at it again! Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Andrew Stockey When it Aired: June 18 Running Time: 1 minute, 54 seconds Visuals: A specially designed SUV performing maneuvers at the former LTV site in Hazelwood. Highlights: * When Stockey sets up his story: "Today's cars are really no more than, well, modern-day computers. They talk to us, they give us directions. But the students at Carnegie Mellon University have taken that to the next level. This car right here ... actually drives itself." * When Stockey narrates, "Look mom, no driver and no remote control. The Tartan Racing Team has pulled off what was once thought impossible: having a car drive itself." * When a graduate student describes how it works: "There's a central computer that's talking through some hard, real-time controllers [which] are talking to components in the vehicle that actually push on the gas and push on the brake and steer the steering wheel." * When William "Red" Whittaker, the leader of the Tartan Racing Team, elaborates: "It starts with a map a little bit like MapQuest. But of course, that's not enough to drive. So, along the way, it has to see with its sensors and then avoid troubles and react to anything that it encounters." * When Stockey continues, "Colleges, independent groups, even major corporations are taking part in a national contest known as the Urban Challenge. With anxious CMU students in the stands, a site visit today by event organizers -- to see if the CMU team's work is worthy of advancing in the competition." * When Stockey wraps up: "Tartan Racing won't be getting its grades until August. That's when they will find out if they have indeed made the cut and are still in the competition, with a $2 million prize for the winner." What We Learned: Cars are just big, clunky computers ... so be thankful for your PDA! Unanswered Question: How much did the SUV cost? News Value: 7. A genuine news feature, finally. Good luck, Tartans!

The Queen of Clean

Summary: Lady Bird Johnson is in the hospital. Station: WPXI Channel 11 Reporter: Bob Bruce When it Aired: June 25 Running Time: 20 seconds Visuals: Footage of the elderly and frail-looking Lady Bird waving to her greeters. Highlights: * When Bruce reports, "This morning former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson is said to be alert and resting comfortably at an Austin, Texas, hospital. The wife of the late president Lyndon Johnson spent the weekend at Seton Medical Center. The 94-year-old was admitted Thursday night with a slight fever and her condition has not changed since." * When Bruce adds, "Lady Bird was best known for her 'Clean Up America' campaign." What We Learned: And you thought your grandmother was old! Unanswered Question: You think Mayor Luke Ravenstahl knows what she's famous for? News Value: 4. The anti-billboard activist was certainly ahead of her time.