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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Thurs., May 1)

Leading off: J.D. Miles, Emily Lopez, David Schechter, Scott Gordon.

D-FW's four major late night TV news providers had a like number of different lead stories Thursday.

Let's evaluate them on their respective merits on what turned out to be a pretty sluggish news day.

WFAA8's David Schechter had the strongest of the bunch. He continues to traffic heavily in traffic reporting, with this story pinpointing the area's major tollway speed traps based on a study of tickets written in the past year.

Garland turned out to be the biggest threat to speeding motorists. Its two-mile stretch of the George Bush Turnpike netted 2,419 speeding tickets, compared to just 100 written for a 22.5 mile stretch farther up the road.

Schechter and litigator Everett Newton, whose desk top nameplate identifies him as "the rock and roll attorney," questioned whether the tickets are hard-and-fast moneymakers on pay roads with "artificially low" 60 mph speed limits that likely will be upped to 70 in the coming year.

Motorists are "ducks sittin' on a pond for some local officer to . . . raise revenue for the city," Newton charged.

Schechter's balanced report also included interviews with police and tollway spokespeople who said that safety is the primary concern.

"The police department says we don't make the rules, we just enforce them," Schechter concluded. All in all it was a very solid report.

Fox4's Emily Lopez, with the help of an attorney, reported exclusively on a school gym class accident that has left a kindergarten boy badly injured and in the hospital.

His parents and their lawyer wonder why it took R.L. Thornton elementary school officials so long to phone 911. A school nurse was "not at liberty" to talk, said Lopez. And DISD officials "refused to answer any questions."

It was an interesting story, but with one caveat from this perspective. The no-commenting school officials bear a striking resemblance to Fox4 news executives, who decline to comment on any personnel matters. So let's not point fingers too hard after the station's reporters similarly are rebuffed in their pursuits of what really happened.

CBS11 led with reporter J.D. Miles' piece on an "exploding" epidemic of cheese heroin use by high school students and younger. He interviewed a 16-year-old girl who was gifted with the drug on her birthday and ended up over-dosing.

This obviously is becoming a very serious problem, but all four stations already have addressed it repeatedly. Miles' story had value, but cheese heroin horror stories unfortunately have become a dime a dozen.

NBC5's Scott Gordon followed up on the station's previous story about a supposed ROTC cadet and university student who was robbed outside the downtown Dallas Greyhound bus depot while he was having a seizure. The young man, Andrew Bow, later told his story on NBC's Today show.

Grainy video of the robbery, which NBC5 had shown before, remains very unsettling to watch. But now Bow's story about his background is falling apart, said Gordon, who was backed up by the findings of Dallas Morning News metro columnist James Ragland.

Bow "hasn't returned our messages," said Gordon. Whatever his background, this didn't seem like a good enough story with which to lead a newscast. Then again, that's the case on many nights on one or more D-FW stations.


***Fox4 reporter Shaun Rabb had a very interesting look at the recent history of wrongly convicted prisoners who were freed on the basis of DNA evidence. It was tied to James Woodard of Dallas, released this week after wrongfully serving 27 years in prison for murdering his girlfriend. DNA evidence exonerated him, and he'll tell more of his story this Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes.

***CBS11's Jay Gormley went to Wilmer to report on what one citizen described as a "cutthroat, dirty, evil and vindictive" mayoral race in that burg.

All well and good. But does anyone remember how little attention all four stations paid to the last Dallas mayoral campaign while happily taking the candidates' money for their paid ads? It's only a slight exaggeration to say that Gormley's juicy little Wilmer story ate up as much time as his station spent on the entire campaign to succeed Dallas mayor Laura Miller. And no, we're not counting election returns night. They all paid attention to that.

***On NBC5, reporter Grant Stinchfield told viewers about a poor dog named Charlie, who was dragged through a Palo Pinto County neighborhood after being tied to a car bumper by its owner. Charlie is recovering, but still has two casts on his legs.

Stinchfield tracked the dog-dragger down and found a man who appears to have the IQ of a celery stalk. "I never wanted the dog to start with," he said. Reporters should be objective, but no one would have objected to Stinchfield decking this sub-human while the camera rolled.

***Reporting live from a petting zoo at Fort Worth's annual Mayfest, Lynn Kawano encouraged visitors to drop in at Fox4's booth, where apparel is available. She then held up Good Day t-shirts with caricatures of anchors Tim Ryan and Megan Henderson. It was puzzling to her -- and no doubt to many -- that the Ryan t-shirt is pink while Henderson's is blue.

***Segueing from his nightly weather report, WFAA8's Pete Delkus turned to sports anchor foil Dale Hansen and said, "What's the deal with the costume tonight? You look like Al Capone."

Hansen wore a very busy outfit -- a dark suit with wide white pinstripes, a shirt with purple pinstrips and a square-patterned purple tie. In his view, he was dressing like Denny Crane, the flamboyant William Shatner character on ABC's Boston Legal.

From this vantage point, Hansen looked more like Paulie Walnuts after a shopping spree at a Goodfellas garage sale.

Fourteen nights to go.