This Just In: Oct. 19 | This Just In | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Living in Filth

Summary: A deeper look into the life of a man who "lives in filth." Station: WPXI Channel 11 Reporter: Karen Welles When It Aired: Oct. 2 Running Time: 3 minutes, 38 seconds Visuals: The kitchen and living room in the man's apartment -- which, by all appearances, seem uninhabitable. Highlights: * When Welles previews, as she stands in the apartment of the man she is profiling, "This is one of the most disgusting sights I have ever seen in my life, and the smell is absolutely horrendous. How could anyone live in these filthy conditions?" * When anchor Gordon Loesch seems to steal a passage from the pages of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton: "They live among us: adults with mental conditions, wandering the streets; scavengers in search of food, living in filthy and deplorable conditions. Tonight [we examine] one case of a human being slipping through the cracks and living like an animal." * When Welles begins, "Under Pennsylvania law, you can't commit someone to a mental-health facility unless they are a danger to themselves or to others. [This man] does not fit that criteria, so he had been living alone and living in filth. It was only recently, and after we'd been investigating his case for months, that mental-health officials finally did something about it." * When the taped portion of her story plays: "The stench assaults you before you even walk through the door. This is the tiny apartment where [this man] lives: human waste all over, including in the kitchen sink. Mold and filth everywhere." * When the man tells Welles, "I hope you'll understand this isn't my choice of how I want to live. ... I want to live in something a little more normal. I want to live ... where ... it's a nice clean place, a nice picked-up place." * When a friend since the age of 5 explains that this man was diagnosed as borderline schizophrenic. * When Welles appears to show genuine concern, as she comments when looking at the contents of his refrigerator, "It doesn't look like you have enough food." * When a younger man, the owner of a barber shop who has befriended the man, says, "He's just basically surviving; it's almost like bein' homeless. He just really needs help, and that's the main thing. He needs help in a lot of ways." * When Welles reports, "The code-enforcement officer in Sharon tells me this filth is a housekeeping issue, that the landlord is always unclogging drains here and the apartments here have passed inspection, and [the man] says a caseworker does pay him visits." * When Welles asks him, "What does she say about the way you're living?" and he replies, "Well, she's says I'm doing better than I did before. She said, you know, it's getting there." * When Welles concludes, "Well, friends tell me [he] was finally moved to an emergency safe-house-type house facility in Sharon. And over the weekend [he] told them he's being moved to a group home." What We Learned: It's a true testament to human nature when you see people helping their neighbors, no matter what their lot in life. Unanswered Question: What to do? There's no easy answer. News Value: 6. I've frequently lamented sensationalistic "house of filth" stories in this space, and was excited to see someone finally looking beyond the "filth" itself. Welles interviews the man with a kind, nonjudgmental demeanor and shows that he is a person who has a mental illness -- one of the underlying reasons people end up living this way. By addressing this story with compassion in an attempt to bring understanding, she's made some progress. However, it's still just the profile of one man, and doesn't give us much in terms of a broader perspective -- or a deeper look inside the system where these people seem to get lost.

Send Your Holiday Cards Now!

Summary: Don't miss this year's deadline for getting those greeting cards out in time! Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Sally Wiggin When It Aired: Oct. 3 Running Time: 26 seconds Visuals: A graphic of a globe and a cluster of holly leaves and berries. Highlights: * When Wiggin apprises, "Now we're getting to the middle of October, and you're probably not only thinking about the holidays, but you should. Some holiday mail deadlines are creeping up." * When she adds, "International mail destined for Africa, Central and South America and the Middle East should be mailed by the end of October." What We Learned: No one wants a late Christmas card. Unanswered Question: What would Scrooge say about the holiday push that seems to get earlier and earlier each year? News Value: 15222. I suppose this is good information for some, but I'm already pretty crabby about hearing about the number of shopping days left, and listening to holiday songs being piped into stores.

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