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This Just In: Nov 7 - 14

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Friday, Bloody Friday

Summary: "Black Friday" is getting a jumpstart, thanks to some colossal chain stores. Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Aaron Saykin, Live When it Aired: Nov. 1 Running Time: 1 minute, 42 seconds Visuals: * A decorated Christmas tree inside a giant discount store. * Saykin standing outside Wal-Mart in North Versailles. Highlights: * When Saykin says, "It's holiday shopping on steroids. An already big season just got even larger, thanks to the giant of the retail world, Wal-Mart, which decided to start Black Friday three weeks early" by offering big discounts on select items. * When a West Mifflin woman reacts jubilantly: "Wow, that's great." * When a woman from the South Side grouses, "I'm not happy with it, I just feel that Christmas has become so commercialized I don't enjoy it anymore." * When Saykin reports, "Wal-Mart had kept its strategy secret until this week when it revealed five items would be sold at deep discounts." * Carnegie Mellon economist Bob Strauss' take: "There's some pessimism rolling around corporate offices, I guess," he says, warning: "Let's see how far those prices really drop, because if Wal-Mart and the rest drop their prices a little bit and they get a huge response, they're not gonna drop 'em anymore because they found the price point." What We Learned: Someday, "Black Friday" will come the day after the Fourth of July. Unanswered Question: How many of these special items does each store have? News Value: 6. Saykin puts a nice local spin on what could have easily been a reworded wire piece.

Friday, Bloody Friday Part II

Summary: An in-depth analysis of the deep discounts offered by Wal-Mart mentioned in the previous story. Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Aaron Saykin, Live Again! When it Aired: Nov. 1 Running Time: 1 minute, 34 seconds Visuals: * Saykin flapping around some sales circulars. * Photos of the "big deals" Wal-Mart is offering. Highlights: * When Saykin begins his second segment: "[F]or anybody in disbelief, we got the proof this morning in the newspaper. Here they are, the circulars. A lot of this stuff looks pretty good on paper, but as we all know, looks, well, they can be deceiving." * When he narrates, "Some customers may wonder what they're really getting from Wal-Mart," and examines just that: "We'll start with the Acer laptop computer for $348. Wal-Mart doesn't offer many of the [product] specifications, but we do know it has a Celeron processor and one gig of memory. Models like it have received a user rating of 'fair' from PC World, which keeps tabs on all electronics. Next, the 50-inch plasma high-definition TV made by Sanyo, which Wal-Mart is selling for $998. That's more than $400 cheaper than the average price, but Consumer Reports recently rated that same Sanyo model second-to-last." * When Saykin continues, "But the HD-DVD player is a totally different story. Wal-Mart is offering the Toshiba HD-A2 for $98.87 for even though the average price is $260 -- and Consumer Reports called that model one of its best choices." * When Saykin concludes, "[Y]ou didn't hear this from me, but Wal-Mart is putting some of these on the shelves at midnight tonight, which is technically tomorrow." What We Learned: That shortly after midnight outside a Wal-Mart somewhere, someone probably peed their pants over a plasma TV. Unanswered Question: How is Wal-Mart able to offer such discounts? (See below!) News Value: 6. A bit advertise-y, but Saykin does bring up the "specs" practice, in which stores offer name-brand products for lower prices because they are made to different specifications. I think a lot of consumers are unaware of this practice. It would make a great story by itself.

Monkey Business

Summary: Some stolen monkeys are recovered. Station: KDKA Channel 2 Reporter: Bob Allen When it Aired: Nov. 5 Running Time: 2 minutes, 8 seconds Visuals: * The scene of the crime, a greenhouse. * Film of a spot-nose guenon monkey. Highlights: * When anchor Sonni Abatta says, "Two exotic monkeys stolen overnight from a family in Washington County are back with their owners this afternoon, and the story of how they were taken and why is pretty unusual." * When the owner reveals the "unusual" way in which the monkeys were stolen: "They just basically smashed [the cage] open." * When Allen adds, "We're told teen-agers, acting on a rumor that marijuana was being grown inside the greenhouse, burglarized the place. Once inside though, all they found was tropical plants, some small alligators, crocodiles, a turtle and three monkeys. The business is called Wild World of Animals. The [animals] are used for educational programs." What We Learned: Maybe the owner could use the animals for some anti-drug programs, too! Unanswered Question: "All" they found was crocodiles and alligators? News Value: 2. You go to steal marijuana, and you take monkeys instead. Makes perfect sense.

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