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This Just In: August 15 - 22

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I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Summary: Some local law-enforcement officers learn "hand-to-hand combat." Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Andrew Stockey When it Aired: Aug. 7 Running Time: 1 minute, 54 seconds Visuals: * Police officers grappling on a gym floor in Beaver County. * Footage from an Ultimate Fighting Championship, which uses "MMA" (mixed martial arts) combat, something Stockey never explains. Highlights: * When Stockey narrates, "These officers have come from across the Northeast to learn the skills for survival in hand-to-hand combat with suspects." * When Rener Gracie, of Gracie Academy, outlines the five-day course: "We give the officers the skills they need to basically defend themselves against a very uncooperative suspect or 'bad guy' so they can avoid getting hurt, but we also teach them how to arrest and control suspects without having to cause unnecessary harm or excessive force." * When Stockey enthusiastically spurts, "It was Gracie's family that created the popular and somewhat controversial Ultimate Fighting Championships." * When Stockey adds, "In an age when the use of deadly force is sometimes second-guessed, it gives officers another, less controversial option." What We Learned: That there is nothing Andrew Stockey doesn't get excited about. Unanswered Question: Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you? News Value: 2. It all feels a little too gimmicky for me, and Stockey never makes the logical leap from "controversial" UFCs to "less controversial" hand-to-hand combat. Moreover, while Gracies are prominent in martial-arts circles, their role in "creating" the UFC is not even clear: The official history on the UFC Web site (www.ufc.com), for instance, never mentions them.

Between Floods

Summary: Millvale residents brace for another round of storms after already experiencing devastating flooding. Station: KDKA Channel 2 Reporter: John Shumway, "Live" When it Aired: Aug. 9 Running Time: 3 minutes Visuals: * A very muddy Butler Street in Millvale. * Shumway standing in waist-deep water with his microphone, doing an interview. Highlights: * When Shumway reports that waters from the first round of storms are beginning to recede: "[S]till a lot of mud from the municipality to clean out. But take a look at Girty's Run: It was, about two hours ago, almost out of its banks again. But you can see it's dropped about 10 feet, but Girty has already done its damage here today." * When Shumway narrates, "From Girty's Run, the muddy waters came again. And this time out of the sewers as well, rushing into the streets of Millvale and into basements and garages -- in some cases, first floors. As the water started to recede [this resident] waded into the water with a hand rake to try and clear a drain to speed the process." * When Shumway asks him, "Isn't there somebody from the municipality or something who ought to be doing this?" and he responds, "Ah, you know, we take care of it ourselves usually." Shumway replies, "You make it sound like you've done this before," to which the man answers with a resounding, "Oh yeah." * When Shumway waxes metaphorically, "For the folks at Chatellier's Bakery, a basement full of water and hundreds of pounds of cake mix are a recipe for heartbreak." * When an understandably upset woman shouts, "We've been here 138 years. We're not moving. We're staying. And you're gonna take care of this. You're gonna figure out why this water is smashing us like this. We're not moving. You're gonna figure it out." * When Shumway elucidates, "You being the elected officials ..." What We Learned: What it looks like to be up the creek without a paddle. Unanswered Question: So, what are elected officials going to do? News Value: 6, with an extra point for wading in the water. According to news accounts, the Army Corps of Engineers is planning to dredge Girty's Run as you read this. A Corps spokesman said that should have been done in 2004, after Hurricane Ivan.

Firing at Fido

Summary: A man kills a dog for barking. Station: WPXI Channel 11 Reporter: Stuart Brown When it Aired: Aug. 10 Running Time: 1 minute, 54 seconds Visuals: * A mug shot of the man who admitted to killing a dog. * The .22-caliber rifle used in the shooting. Highlights: * When Brown tells us, "This black Labrador named Blackjack was [this woman's] pet for 13 years, and lived in this doghouse at her Long Branch, Washington County, home. She said her next-door neighbor, 44-year-old Louis Mough, threatened to shoot Blackjack if he didn't stop barking." * When Brown reports, "This criminal complaint quotes Mough as saying, 'I'm sick of that dog barking constantly, so I shot it.' Police said he lured the dog to his house and fed it before the shooting." * When a policeman tells Brown, "He had told the arresting officer last night, that it was his right to kill that dog." What We Learned: Maybe this man needed some pet -- or people -- love of his own. Unanswered Question: None, actually -- this is already more than I'd like to know. News Value: 5. Brown succeeds in telling this story of cruelty without sensationalism; but despite his efforts, he can't hide the fact that that's why the story was assigned.

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