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This Just In: July 11 - 18

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To Err is Human, To Forgive Bovine

Summary: A cement cow is stolen, then returned to its home on an Economy Borough farm. Station: WPXI Channel 11 Reporter: Amy Marcinkiewicz When it Aired: July 3 Running Time: 1 minute, 11 seconds Visuals: * Assorted views of what may be this area's largest lawn ornament. Highlights: * When Marcinkiewicz describes the victim: "She's 13 years old, lost her horns, only has one good eye, but this cow is Leroy McKissic's pride and joy. Standing just three feet high, she looks petite, but she's pretty hefty." * When McKissic estimates, "That thing weighs three or four hundred pounds at least," and Marcinkiewicz asks, "It's heavy?" He replies, "Oh, that's heavy. Solid concrete." * When Marcinkiewicz describes the chain of events: "[S]omeone stole this cow, had her on the lam for three days. Leroy went to the cops, offered a $300 reward. And then Tuesday morning, three terrified boys showed up with the cow and an apology." * When Leroy recounts, "I think they learned a pretty good lesson ... I said, 'You know, I could have you arrested if I wanted to ... although you brought it back, it doesn't make any difference. You stole it. You've taken it. But no, I'm not gonna do anything.'" * When a neighbor, excited about the cow's return, says, "I missed it. And this morning, I says, 'Oh, the cow's back!'" * When Marcinkiewicz milks the story's conclusion for all it's worth: "Leroy is udderly happy that he has his cow back, and he hopes nobody moves it again." What We Learned: That there is still a place where beef only costs about a dollar a pound. Unanswered Question: What's the cow's name? News Value: 2. News you can moos.

In Esoteric Hysterics

Summary: A local woman celebrates her 21st birthday on "7/7/07"! Station: KDKA Channel 2 Reporter: Mary Robb Jackson When it Aired: July 6 Running Time: 2 minutes, 49 seconds Visuals: * File footage of the "special" young woman as a baby in a hospital nursery. * A graphic of a birthday cake with the caption, "Lucky Lady!" * The birthday girl and her mother reminiscing over old photos at the dining room table. Highlights: * When anchor Kristine Sorensen announces, "Tomorrow's date adds up to triple sevens -- a very lucky day." And proof of that is ... ? * When Jackson recalls, "It was back on July 7, 1986, when we did a story with a family of a brand-new baby girl from Greenfield. The reason for the story was that somewhere in the world that day, the 5 billionth person was born. While it wasn't likely [this woman], she has surfaced once more for another auspicious occasion." * When Jackson explains, "Tomorrow, on the magical 7/7/07, [she] turns 21, and yes -- you do the math." * When the young woman's mother says, "She said, 'Something just occurred to me: 7/7/07, that's my birthday. 7/7/07 equals 21, that's my 21st birthday.'" * When the young woman speaks of her aspirations: "I've always wanted to be a writer. I've always wanted to write for as long as I can remember." What We Learned: Apparently, anyone who turned 18 on 6/6/06 is doomed. Unanswered Question: Will the person who does not want to be a writer raise their hand? News Value: 0. Jackson, the queen of local news melodrama, takes the cake with this contrived walk down Kawinkydink Lane.

Acid Pop

Summary: New evidence suggests colas can wreak serious havoc. Station: KDKA Channel 2 Reporter: Dr. Maria Simbra, "Live" When it Aired: July 6 Running Time: 2 minutes, 11 seconds Visuals: * A commercial refrigerator case of Coca-Cola. * Lunchers drinking from big Coca-Cola cups. * An anatomical illustration of kidneys. Highlights: * When Simbra says, "[M]ost Americans wouldn't think anything of having a couple glasses of cola with lunch or dinner, but it may be worth giving it a second thought, keeping your kidneys in mind." * When Simbra seamlessly segues into her canned segment of the story: "Coke adds life, so the ad goes, but maybe not if your kidneys have a say. A study in the journal Epidemiology shows that two servings of cola a day more than double the risk of chronic kidney disease." * When a Children's Hospital kidney specialist warns, "Chronic kidney disease is actually a silent killer. You may not even know you have it." * When Simbra reports, "The increased odds for kidney problems weren't seen with other carbonated beverages, and the researchers don't believe it's the caffeine or the sugar. Their guess is the preservative phosphoric acid. It gives dark colas that tangy taste. High levels of phosphates have been linked to kidney damage and kidney stones." * When Simbra ends on a realistic note: "Now this is just one small study, and more rigorous research is needed before any sweeping recommendations are put in place, so if you're a cola guzzler, no need to panic -- but it's probably better to keep all things in moderation." What We Learned: In the end, we will all die. Unanswered Question: How long will it be before a study finds that certain ingredients in cola can prevent disease? News Value: 4. This is interesting, but it's mostly a reworded wire story lacking in local flavor. And how about equal villain time for Pepsi, the other leading dark cola?

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