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

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Sink your teeth into this!
KDKA’s news show reports on its Facebook page that the Bridgeville Police Department has in its possession one full set of false teeth. The teeth were discovered in Triangle Park. KDKA points out the “best of the best” tooth puns from the comments section of Bridgeville Police Department’s own Facebook page:

“Were they found around tooth-hurty?” “Stop making fun of the poor toothless person running around Bridgeville, oral-b [sic] mad!” “The person who finds the owner will win a little plaque for their efforts.”
Now this is what the comments section was meant for, people.

But try not to sink your car!
In more serious KDKA news, and in light of recent heavy downpours, Lynn Hayes-Freeland reports that the Washington Boulevard flood-gate system, designed to alert drivers to rising waters, is broken, after being damaged by an automobile.

Four people were killed there when they were trapped inside their cars by floodwaters in August 2011. PennDOT paid more than $400,000 for a system designed to prevent drivers from entering the danger zone. If it took a single car to wreck the safety system, one has to ask: How good was it in the first place?

Hayes highlights a familiar bureaucratic trope — responsibility-bouncing.

“A spokesperson for the city acknowledged the gate was knocked down by a car and has not been repaired. PennDOT installed the gate but says it’s not responsible for maintaining it. The city says the gates are still run by the state. So the broken gate now just sits,” she reported, adding, “The city does intend to take them over eventually, but beforehand is going to contract with the firm that built the gates to study their operability and fix any outstanding problems.”
Police continue to block the intersection during rainstorms, but there is no timelime to repair the gate.

Let’s hope Lynn continues to follow the story. I think many of us would like to know how one car can ruin a $400,000 system.

The Red Sheet
The Green Sheet, published by Hammond Newspapers in Millvale, with the catchy phrase — “You buy a newspaper to read — you read the Green Sheet to buy” — also publishes stories. And I’m here to tell you, you don’t know what you’re missing. Last week, in a column entitled, “Report to the People,” anti-gay, conservative syndicated columnist Cal Thomas opines on “the heart of liberalism.”

“Little consideration is given to whether a [government] program or idea will accomplish its stated goal, only intentions matter,” writes Thomas, referencing PBS’s The American Experience, a longtime series which covers historical events. He compares a recently rebroadcast episode — which profiled President Lyndon B. Johnson, the man who signed legislation upholding critical things like Medicaid, civil rights and public broadcasting — to the current presidential race, all in an effort to bash Hillary Clinton.

Who knew that the innocuous little free paper you pick up to look for a secondhand fridge to store meat in your basement over winter was really a cover for conservative content?


Thanks, Obama.

Don’t Read the Comments!
Speaking of LBJ’s public-broadcasting legislation, last week NPR announced that users will no longer be able to comment on its website stories. “After much experimentation and discussion, we’ve concluded that the comment sections on NPR.org stories are not providing a useful experience for the vast majority of our users,” said NPR’s Scott Montgomery, managing editor for digital news.
At press time, local NPR affiliate WESA’s interim news director, ironically (or maybe not), did not return a request for comment.



NewsTastic! (RIP?)
Remember when I wrote about NewsCastic back in September 2015? The Albuquerque, N.M.-based media group distributes “news” almost exclusively through social media. Its lofty mission included “redefining the economics of local news.” Unfortunately, while the Albuquerque site has a recent entry, it looks like other cities where NewsCastic has satellites — Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Salt Lake City, Minneapolis and Sacramento — are also losing traction.

Upgruv.com, a similarly modeled news source, doesn’t seem to be faring so well, either.  Editor Jim Kubus (who’s also deputy managing editor of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, whose affiliate 535 Media owns Upgruv) originally declared that Upgruv planned to grow the site through Facebook and Twitter. But Upgruv has a paltry 1,650 “likes” on its Facebook page and about 1,174 Twitter followers after six months.

Upgruv promised us “snarky,” “unguarded” and even “racy” reporting when it launched in March, but it’s failed on all accounts. Even on the “reporting,” since it’s basically an aggregator. The raciest news I found of late was about Primanti’s offering delivery, quoting WPXI as the source. If this is the new definition of local-news reporting, we may want to get another dictionary.


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