The Cold Facts
Summary: You may be able to keep warm this winter, but your neighbor might not — and your chances of being "your neighbor" are rising. Station: KDKA Channel 2 Reporter: Mary Robb Jackson When it Aired: Dec. 20 Running Time: 1 minute, 58 seconds Visuals: * The shadow of "Tom," a man Jackson profiles. * Smoke spiraling out of local chimney tops. Highlights: * When anchor Ken Rice states, "According to the state Public Utility Commission, the number of households in this area facing a long, cold winter is up more than 6 percent over last year." * When "Tom," whose gas service has been terminated, says, "Without the gas ... I'm gettin' by, but it's cold at night." * When Jackson explains, "Tom has not had gas service since Nov. 14. He's using three electric heaters for warmth. Tom, who's on disability, cooks his food in an electric skillet and bundles up." * When she interjects, "The Public Utilities Commission's cold-weather survey estimates more than 5,000 homes here in Western Pennsylvania will be just like Tom's, using potentially unsafe heating sources to stay warm after shut-offs." * When Jackson advises, "But nobody has to live that way. Every major public utility company, gas or electric, offers programs to help low-income customers restore or maintain service." What We Learned: That even if some of us have to conserve what we have, at least we have it to conserve. Unanswered Question: Why no interview with a gas company — only Duquesne Light? News Value: 3. This story was a nice idea, but sadly comes off as just another one of Jackson's all-too-familiar, overly dramatic features that is almost too hackneyed to take seriously.
Hard to Swallow
Summary: Part of its "Living With Poverty" series, a local look at hunger. Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Marilyn Brooks When it Aired: Dec. 18
Running Time: 5 minutes, 26 seconds Visuals: * A toddler chomping on McDonald's fries. * A chart listing the physical and emotional consequences of hunger in children.
Highlights: * When Brooks reports, "Here in Allegheny County alone, more than 41,000 children under the age of 18 now live in poverty. Eighteen thousand of them live right here in Pittsburgh. And in Pittsburgh, every fourth person standing in a soup-kitchen line is a child." * When she adds, "But the working poor are just as hard-hit. People like [this woman]: divorced, making just above $20,000 ... she's here at Children's because one of her three children ... is overweight. ... Kids like Brian depend on school-lunch programs for one-third to one-half of their daily nutrition. After-school hunger was satisfied by fast food." * When Brooks notes, "[This doctor] says childhood obesity can be a sign of hunger. Two-thirds of his patients are poor, with grocery stores rare in poor neighborhoods. Many there eat fast food for its convenience, its taste and because it's filling." * When Brooks dishes this eye-opening statistic: "The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is on the front lines in the fight against hunger ... but it is finding more on its plate these days: Nearly 24,000 new families have been added to its list since 2006." * What We Learned: That hunger isn't just a holiday problem. Unanswered Question: Why don't they let you do more stories like this, Marilyn? News Value: 8. Unlike KDKA's Jackson, Brooks doesn't lay it on thick, but still provides compelling facts and interviews to show that hunger is a growing problem.
Give Geese a Chance
Summary: Protesters flock to Downtown to represent the geese. Station: KDKA Channel 2 Reporter: Alison Morris When it Aired: Dec. 21 Running Time: 2 minutes, 6 seconds Visuals: Geese gaggling around in North Park, and close-ups of the "goodies" they've left behind. Highlights: * When Morris begins, "Well, there were only two protesters outside the County Courthouse today, but they represent a much larger group. They're called ‘Voices for Animals' and they're blitzing [County Executive Dan Onorato] with e-mails today hoping they can stop him from having more geese killed in 2008." * When a protester says, "We're all one, we're all part of the web of life, and ... we should be supporting [geese] and taking care of them instead of killing them." * When Morris notes, "But last July, the county euthanized over 270 Canada geese that had been living along the lake at North Park, largely because of the overwhelming amount of waste they were leaving behind." * When protester Rebecca Reid states their mission: "We're asking Mr. Onorato ... to respect the people who do not want these animals, these birds, to be killed." * When Morris retorts, "But a spokesperson for Dan Onorato says that's exactly what the county intends to do. There are currently no plans to euthanize any geese in North Park in 2008." What We Learned: Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man's hat. Unanswered Question: What should we do about people who eat geese, though? News Value: 3. Give the goose beat a break, already.