All Systems No-Go
Summary: A tale of red lights and red tape. Station: KDKA Channel 2 Reporter: Andy Sheehan When It Aired: March 1 Running Time: 2 minutes, 48 seconds Visuals: * A motorist passing the time while stuck in traffic by reading The Pennysaver. * Snarled traffic in the Golden Triangle. Highlights: * When a smiling Sheehan says to anchor Patrice King Brown, "Next time you're stuck in Downtown traffic, consider how slowly the wheels of government turn. The city spent more than three million dollars on a system to help improve traffic flow. But for more than a decade, they haven't been able to get it to work as it should." * This gem from Public Works Director Guy Costa, who never fails to make me laugh, especially when his hair is a ruffled mess and it looks like Sheehan just roused him from bed: "It has taken a long time. I'm gonna be honest here, but we are working on it." * When Sheehan gets to the crux of the matter: "Since the middle 1990s, the city has used [a federal grant] to wire all of its Downtown traffic lights with fiber-optic cable. In fairness, it has done some good, allowing the city to program and sequence the Downtown lights to accommodate the early-morning rush hour, the evening rush hour and off-peak times. But the system is designed to do much more. ... Operators should be able to change the sequences to respond to tie-ups and other traffic emergencies." * When Sheehan conveys, "The city blames it on computer glitches, budget cuts and a lack of staffing, and delays in the federal funding to purchase the correct software." * When city councilor and mayoral candidate Bill Peduto appears seemingly out of nowhere and says, with his trademark consternation, "It's indicative of not finishing the job." What We Learned: If Peduto keeps throwing big words like "indicative" at us, he's never going to be elected. Unanswered Question: An "honest" public-works director? Is Costa trying to ruin politics? News Value: 10. Sheehan delivers, as usual. Peduto needs to stop making so much sense when speaking to the public -- it's really hurting his campaign.
Summary: Gas prices are up, and -- of course -- it's a woman's fault. Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Gus Rosendale When It Aired: March 2 Running Time: 1 minute, 37 seconds Visuals: Rosendale stalking motorists at a gas station in Regent Square. Highlights: * When Rosendale previews his story, "It is not your imagination: Gas prices are going up in a big way, real fast, and Mother Nature is responsible." * When a curiously beaming Wendy Bell says, "A 20-cent jump in just two weeks, so break out the gas gauge." * When Rosendale reports, "Well, it didn't exactly happen overnight, but boy, it sure did happen fast. A double-digit gas-price spike, with a direct connection to Mother Nature." * When Rosendale narrates, "It was just a few weeks ago when warm weather had gas prices on the downward track. Then a deep freeze, which meant a demand for oil. And now this: gas at around $2.50 a gallon in Pittsburgh." * When a male motorist from Greensburg says, "I just pay it and don't worry about it. And I get about 10 miles to the gallon." * When Rosendale remarks, "In town today, Governor Ed Rendell announced plans to make the Commonwealth less dependent on fossil fuels for both economic and environmental benefits. That shift, though, could take years." * When Rendell blathers, "Alternative and renewable sources of energy will be to the next two decades what information technology has been to the last two decades." What We Learned: That we will never learn. Unanswered Question: Who would like to see Rendell ride a bus, or a bike -- just for the novelty of it? News Value: 1. Oh, where do I begin? If only it were that simple as blaming it on a mythological creature of the female persuasion. There are many factors besides weather that influence gas prices, such as world tensions and domestic supply. And of course, a politician will spin any of them to advance the cause of the lobbyists who fill his pockets.
Fish Fry "Light"
Summary: A nutritional analysis of -- and alternative to -- your friendly local fish fry. Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Ari Hait When it Aired: March 2 Running Time: 2 minutes, 13 seconds Visuals: * The caption, "Going Lighter for Lent." * A church rectory filled with its fish-eating flock. Highlights: * After anchor Wendy Bell reports fish fries can be fattening, when anchor Michelle Wright asks, "Just how fattening ... and is there an alternative? [Hait] has our fish-fry findings." * As Toto's "Hold the Line" (get it?) plays in a local church kitchen, Hait asks, "[H]ave you ever thought about how healthy or unhealthy these are?" * When Hait reveals that there are 1,305 calories and 68 grams of fat in a typical Lenten meal, and then does the math for an example of a "lighter" Lenten meal offered by some churches now, which contains only 325 calories and 6 grams of fat. * When Hait, tapping into the core of the hardest part of being Catholic, says, "With this meal, you could probably also lose the guilt from having dessert." What We Learned: Guess some folk have haddock with saturated fat in their fish. Unanswered Question: Will Friday Fish Broils have as good a ring? News Value: 5. It's good to see Catholics progressing with the times.