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This Just In 

"Tractor Troubles"

Summary: Two local high school seniors find themselves in a fine mess after driving farm equipment to school. Station: KDKA Channel 2 Reporter: John Shumway When it Aired: April 3 Running Time: 2 minutes, 48 seconds Visuals: * Horses grazing in a field near South Fayette High School. * Tractors parked in the school lot next to cars. * A handwritten sign by a fan that reads, "I support tractors." Highlights: * When Shumway sets up the story: "South Fayette High draws from both a suburban area and a rural area, and today the country side of life was very evident." He leads into his narrative, "You can build the most modern of schools that you'd like. But in these rolling farm hills ... there is still a sense of senior history." * When one of the tractor-drivin' teens rationalizes, "Well, my parents have told us stories that they've actually drove horses -- or rode -- horses to school, and they used to park 'em behind the school. So I guess it's been done a couple times before. My uncle's done it a couple times." * When Shumway assuages, "And so, [these two young men] arrived this morning in the school parking lot on tractors to carry forward tradition." * When the same young aspiring farmer recounts, "The one cop thought it was pretty funny, actually, and the other two didn't seem to like it much at all. And whenever we [arrived], the administration came down. ... I was smilin'; I kinda thought it was funny." * When Shumway interjects, "The school didn't. Each was hit with a three-day suspension for doing something illegal on school property." * When a police captain details their offenses: "Driving a vehicle that's unregistered, no inspection, and, um, no insurance on that vehicle." * When you hear one of the tractor-driving students defending their action: "It doesn't say in the handbook that you can't drive tractors to school." * When we're treated to an unexpected music-video montage featuring the boys riding on their tractors, accompanied by lyrics from a popular song: She thinks my tractor, she thinks my tractor's sexy, it really turns her on ..." * When Shumway accuses them, "I think you're tryin' to live out Kenny Chesney's song. ... You're trying to get girls with the sexy tractor bit, right?" * When Shumway remarks, "The boys' parents aren't too pleased" about the punishment, "but the school district says ... they're not gonna back down on that three days off from school. The South Fayette Police are currently putting together charges. Actually, they're traffic citations: three apiece for each boy. It could cost them several hundred dollars if they're found guilty in front of the magistrate." * When Shumway ends, anecdotally: "At last word, no girls in sight." What We Learned: Kids just can't seem to get away with anything but murder these days. Unanswered Question: So where did they get the tractors? News Value: 7. A great story. Unfortunately, for all the creativity that went into their prank, and the creative way their tale was told, they were met with a very conventional punishment.


Summary: A bank robber dons a Ronald Reagan mask. Station: Channel 11 News on Fox 53 Reporter: Kimberly Easton When it Aired: April 5 Running Time: 1 minute, 30 seconds Visuals: * Film from Point Break -- a movie which the station fails to identify, but which depicts bank robbers wearing presidential masks. * Easton next to a wall of masks at a costume store. Highlights: * When anchor Stacia Erdos begins, "Police are searching for a bandit after a local bank is hit. But right now, the only description that they have is that he looks like former President Ronald Reagan." (Doesn't she mean "late" rather than "former"?) * When Easton reports, "You may have seen it on the big screen: bank robbers wearing presidential masks. Something similar, but not nearly as aggressive [as the movie clip shown] happened here in Monroeville: A man burst through the doors of a bank wearing the popular Ronald Reagan mask. I'm here at Costume World in the Strip District, where we have found out that it's virtually impossible to get your hands on a Ronald Reagan mask. You can find a Richard Nixon mask, a George Bush or George Washington mask, but somehow a man found a way to get his hands on this elusive Reagan mask and committed a crime." * When she says, "Both of these bank tellers on the job for only two years couldn't say much about the robbery, but we learned the teller didn't see a gun." * When Easton reveals, "One long-time customer didn't know what to think about what happened. ... He just hopes police get this masked robber off the streets. ... So whatever happens in the movies, can stay on the big screen." What We Learned: Two years on the job seems long enough -- especially when you work in the TV news industry. Unanswered Question: Isn't it possible he already had the mask? News Value: 3. The next day's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that, while witnesses thought the mask looked like Reagan, "it might have been a more generic rubber mask with a big nose and an extended chin." Which if true would, well, unmask this over-the-top report.



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