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This Just In: Feb 6 - 13

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Exhausting Their Possibilities

Summary: No need to worry about your copper pipes anymore -- there's a new pipe thieves are coveting! Station: KDKA Channel 2 Reporter: Jim Lokay When it Aired: Jan. 20 Running Time: 2 minutes Visuals: * Close-ups of assorted exhaust systems. * Symbols for platinum and rhodium from the periodic table of elements. Highlights: * When anchor Patrice King Brown states, "Remote door-lock and alarm systems make it easy for you to protect what is inside your car," and anchor Stacy Smith adds, "So thieves are now turning to a target that is nearly impossible for drivers to protect." * When Lokay begins, "In an era where gas is $3 a gallon and the price of parking Downtown is sky-high, leaving your car at a park-and-ride lot and taking the bus sounds like a no-brainer. For Tammy Trevisan it was -- that is, until Monday." * When Trevisan recounts, "The other day when I went to go get in my car, I started it up and it just sounded like a jet engine it was so loud." * When her husband says, "I noticed the large gap missing from underneath of our car, where the catalytic converter should have been." * When Lokay elaborates, "[S]omeone sawed it off -- and it is a crime on the rise." * When an auto mechanic says, "A used catalytic converter like this might have a value of $60 to $70. But it's an industry -- recycling catalytic converters." * When Lokay tells us why: "And that's because thieves are going for the platinum that filters out the exhaust. It's only a trace amount, but an ounce of platinum sells for about $1,700. They also employ another trace element called rhodium. That goes for 7,300 bucks an ounce. And if it happens to you, you'll pay anywhere from $300 [to $1,800]." * When Lokay wraps up, "[I]f you're the person responsible, Tammy has a message for ya." * Ms. Trevisan's message -- "We work hard for our money. Go get a job, that's what I'd tell them. GO GET A JOB!" What We Learned: Well, somebody's got to be buying this stuff for it to be worth their while, and it's not that hard to figure out who. Unanswered Question: Wouldn't it be fun, say, if you caught someone from a distance in the act of stealing your exhaust system, to have a REMOTE STARTER? News Value: 7. Good work, Lokay -- keep it up so you don't ever have to heed Tammy's advice.

 

WikiMania!

Summary: A Team 4 "investigation" tackles use of government time spent editing Wikipedia entries. Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Paul Van Osdol When it Aired: Feb. 1 Running Time: 5 minutes Visuals: * Black-and-white footage from the TV show, The Addams Family. * Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's Wiki page. Highlights: * When Van Osdol announces, "They may look like busy bureaucrats, but some of them have been obsessing over Big Ben, Beyonce and James Bond." * His primary example of misuse: "A state employee took time out of his day to edit the Wikipedia page for Lurch, the butler on The Addams Family TV series, just to point out that Lurch did not actually play the harpsichord himself." * When Van Osdol continues, "An Allegheny County employee used his county computer to detail the plot summary for a Star Wars television series. As for Ben Roethlisberger, his Wikipedia page has been edited by employees of the Navy, the Army, the Census Bureau, the City of Seattle and Allegheny County. In total, we found 33 Wikipedia edits by city employees, 202 by Allegheny County employees, 1,536 by state employees and 5,542 edits by congressmen, senators or their staffers." * When Van Osdol touts, "After Team 4 brought that to his attention, Governor Ed Rendell launched an investigation. He says the state prohibits personal use of the Internet, like editing the Wikipedia site for Batman's enemies." * When a CMU computer scientist demonstrates how to edit an entry on the site: "So if we just click on 'edit this page' [and] we just delete 'Colts' ... we see the Steelers beating the Bears 29-17 in last year's Super Bowl." * When Van Osdol reveals the shocking information that someone from Upper St. Clair High School wrote that Mount Lebanon High School "is very yucky bad bad." Whoa. That's heavy stuff. What We Learned: This story was very yucky bad bad. Unanswered Question: Haven't you heart of Stephen Colbert, Van Osdol? This is sooo old! News Value: 3. Check out groovy and smart economist Chris Briem (who also happens to blog) at Null Space (www.nullspace2.blogspot.com). Briem ran the "WikiScanner" on WTAE's corporate parent, Hearst-Argyle Television: Turns out Hearst staffers have spent time editing entries for the likes of Bon Jovi, Popeye ... and the tooth fairy. No matter how I dissect this story, though, so far the worst sweeps story (and I know it's early) has to be the WPXI piece about how much farther you can go when your gas light reads EMPTY.

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