Sweeps Unchained

Rad Berky got armed and dangerous. Carmel Cafiero got Joe Gersten. Ike Seamans got a heart attack. And we watched it all.

Marv passes easily.
Snell also tests the phone by letting one of her officemates steal an electronic organizer from her pocketbook. She then dials around the office accusing her peers of theft. "I'm going to say based on the numbers that Todd Tongen probably took something out of my pocketbook," she guesses after completing her inquisition. While Tongen is the thief, the numbers (which are visible on screen) actually indicate that Shari Lipner took the organizer.

What else is she hiding?

Alliterative title: 0
Sex: 0
Reporter participation: +10
Live, local, or late-breaking: Not really. 0

Competition from other stations: WTVJ ran its own short story about the truth phone. -20

Intangibles: Channel 10's truth phone reportedly costs $1500 less than the phone used on Channel 6. +10

Total score: 50

Title: "Lives on the Line"
Station: Channel 6
Reporter: Steve Daniels
Date: October 30

The $44 million Ericsson two-way radio system purchased by the county four years ago doesn't work very well. Police and firefighters complain that the radios fail inside buildings, when they get wet, and during other potentially serious situations.

"Is the county holding Ericsson's feet to the fire to make sure the citizens and the public-safety people in Dade County will be kept safe?" Daniels asks Mayor Alex Penelas.

"Absolutely!" the mayor replies. "And I think to your credit and your channel's credit more so now because I think without a doubt we have to make sure the taxpayers of Dade County are getting exactly what they paid for."

Alliterative title: Barely +5
Sex: 0
Ambush: 0
Hidden camera: 0
Endorsement from Alex Penelas (usually the kiss of death): -20
Solid reporting: +2
Intangibles: Daniels did not suffer a heart attack on air. +15
Total score: 52

Title: "Five Secrets to Staying Together"
Station: Channel 6
Reporter: Kelly Craig
Date: November 18
Intangibles: Appreciation. +1
New information. +1
Puzzles. +1
Complaints with request for change. +1
Wishes, hopes, and dreams. +1
Total score: 55

Title: "Crime Caught on Tape"
Station: Channel 7
Reporter: Derek Hayward
Date: October 30

Bombastic British broadcaster Hayward explains that security cameras not only exist, they also seem to work. He shows examples of shoplifters caught nabbing underwear, hats, and cigarettes.

Then suddenly, and entirely without warning, Hayward displays footage of a gruesome triple homicide: The screen fills with a blurry blue image of Seth Penalver apparently pistol-whipping Miramar nightclub owner Casmir Sucharski. When someone tries to intercede, the gun's muzzle flashes, and Sucharski and two female acquaintances are killed.

"It's both good and bad," Channel 7 legal expert Howard Finkelstein says of videotape evidence. "But in the end I think all evidence is good. It's what the jury does with it. We have seen that these videotapes convict the guilty and free the innocent. It can show when the defendants are lying or the police are lying."

And the bad?

Alliterative title: Not really. 0
Ambush: 0
Hidden camera: Just the topic. 0
Sex: 0
Howard Finkelstein: +20

Competition from other stations: WPLG's "Stupid Criminals" also showed crimes caught on tape (though without the murders). -20

Intangibles: Finkelstein interviewed in an artfully shadowed courtroom. +10
Total score: 60

Title: "Tear Down the Tolls"
Station: Channel 7
Reporter: Patrick Frazier
Date: November 6-7

Quarters collected at South Florida tollbooths along Florida's Turnpike are used to pay for the construction and maintenance of roads not just in South Florida but all across the state. Tolls are also annoying.

"Shame on Florida for their turnpike service!" shouts "angry driver" Anthony Brown. Oops! -- that's for Al Sunshine, who files his own Shame Team report on the tolls, emphasizing the delays caused by motorists who pay with $20 bills.

Alliterative title: +10
Sex: 0
Ambush: By Al Sunshine, who corners a toll collector, but not by Frazier. 0

Quote from a politician, preferably Alex Penelas: State Sen. Mario Diaz-Balart says: "[The tolls are] patently unfair, period." +10

Competition from other stations: -20
Intangibles: Frazier does not enshrine anyone in a "Hall of Shame." +15
Total score: 65

Title: "Classic Clunkers"
Station: Channel 6
Reporter: Bob Mayer
Date: November 7

Mayer, himself a classic car collector, exposes a legal loophole that lets other (read: less sophisticated) people drive around with the collector license plates he prizes. Because of a 1996 state law, all cars more than twenty years old automatically receive collector tags, which cost less to renew than regular plates.

"As a collector myself, I can tell you that a car is not a collectible just because it's old," Mayer huffs.

The reporter confronts Thomas Sheppard, who keeps an old Cutlass in his yard. "How did you get the collectible tag?" Mayer demands.

"Well, when I went to get a tag, they gave it to me," Sheppard replies sheepishly. "I like the Florida one better. It looks better. This is kind of plain."

Hidden camera: 0
Sex: 0
Reporter involvement: +10

Quote from a politician, preferably Alex Penelas: State Rep. Elaine Bloom, who calls the loophole "embarrassing." +5

Intangibles: Nice cars. +10
Total score: 75

Title: "Poison Produce"
Station: Channel 4
Reporter: Michelle Gillen
Date: November 10-13

Potentially contaminated vegetables harvested by child laborers on pesticide-infested Mexican farms are sometimes sold as American-grown. People who eat this food may lose their hair.

Gillen skulks around Mexican farms and Miami produce-shipping bays to report that 50 percent of all winter vegetables consumed in America today are grown in foreign fields. Almost none of the foreign food is inspected by the U.S. government. "Most Americans believe, like you do, that because it has a USDA seal of approval that the product is safe," says Luis Rodriguez, former senior executive with the United States Department of Agriculture. "But it's not."

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