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This Just In: A look at local news online and on the tube

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Wendy Bell Is Back, and She’s Hungry

If you didn’t know, embattled former news anchor Wendy Bell is back on Facebook, sans the WTAE call letters. 

For those who may have missed it (although I’m not sure anyone could), Bell was fired from the television station after some viewers and Facebook followers took issue with some racially charged comments the anchor made on her page about the March 9 mass shooting in Wilkinsburg. She has largely been off social media since the controversy kicked up. 

Her triumphant return began with an intimate epistolary revealing she hadn’t eaten anything for days, and that it had been more than a week since she’d slept, prompting her well-wishing followers to plead with her to eat and take care of herself. Wilkinsburg be damned, Wendy Bell needs to eat, and salty or umami just won’t do — she needs something sweet.

In a post on April 18 about how her son was growing into a man on a ballfield in Elliott, she wrote of a “sweet smelling hillside [sic],” “sweet smelling grass [sic]” and “caramel brown dirt” and how she planned to “taste the sweetness” of her time off. 

April 13, she wrote fondly about her “silly little garden.” She concluded, “that first plump cherry tomato this summer is going to taste so deliciously satisfying.”

And, as recently as last week, she was still “tossing and turning” most nights, “considering life and all its many endless and delicious possibilities.” On April 15, she tweeted: “A journal just dropped off at my door. I see the signs and hear you, Pgh. It’s finally time to write a book.” But before that, she’s starting a blog.

And what is she going to write about? You guessed it: “Stories we’re HUNGRY to hear,”  The big question is, WILL IT BE A COOKBOOK?

Bell has posted a public invitation for people to join her at her son’s next baseball game, so now is your chance to have that community dialogue, folks. Just be sure to show up with a delicious covered dish. 

Meantime, Shannon Perrine, a solid veteran reporter who’s been with the station since 1999, and Jackie Cain, who’s been with WTAE for three years, have been splitting Bell’s shifts at the p.m. anchor desk. Cain said she is a temporary replacement until June, but neither Perrine nor WTAE confirmed whether Perrine is temporary or permanent. 

Getting Social in Person 

While the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s SEEN section features huge galas that bring in huuuuuuge dollars, The South Pittsburgh Reporter (sopghreporter.com) features the weekly gem “The South Pittsburgh SCENE” with Brad Palmisiano, a more modest approach to the offline social scene. 

Palmisiano, an architectural engineer for CannonDesign by day, covers community-building events like the recent South Side Spring Social, which drew a mix of long-time South Siders and “weeks-new” residents, to benefit South Side and Armstrong parks. He also recently covered the Carrick Business Association’s second annual “Shred It Day.” 

Glamour is in the eye of the beholder. 

Up With Grūv

Upgrūv promises to “scour the web so you don’t have to,” making it the scrubbing bubbles of news. Except while scrubbing bubbles clean bathrooms, Upgrūv gives you news you can read in the length of time it takes to go to the bathroom.

It’s the latest local content-provider contender, a project of 535 Media — an affiliate of Trib Total Media. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Upgrūv is “news, features, video and other content created for Pittsburgh millennials.”

Lindsay Patross, a social-media professional who has been blogging about Pittsburgh for 10 years at iheartpgh.com, is adamantly opposed to news created solely for millennials. “Pittsburgh is desperate for better news delivery, both in terms of content and website design/usability. It is concerning to me that Upgrūv is focusing on news for millennials. I don’t think one demographic needs, or necessarily wants, a different type of news than another demographic,” she says.

But Patross does think Upgrūv offers an excellent user experience and could be a model for other local news publications. “I hope that the focus from Upgrūv and any other media outlet is better local stories and more local reporting,” she says.

Jim Kubus, the manager of Upgrūv and a Tribune-Review deputy managing editor, says that while Upgrūv’s content is created for millennials, it’s not necessarily limited to them. 

“Upgrūv is curated content for busy people,” he says. “We believe that many of the items we present have a broad generational appeal. … Delivering content with a mobile-first mentality is a high priority.”

Speaking of the Mobile-First Mentality

There’s nothing that says “mobile-first mentality” more than the f-bomb. Which brings us to KDKA’s Ross Guidotti, an award-winning journalist who was featured on an Upgrūv “NSFW” story for recently dropped the f-bomb on KDKA-TV during a live remote from Fayette County. If there’s one thing we know, people of all ages can appreciate that. When you scour the web, you’re bound to pick up some dirt.


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