Four Cal State Fullerton students are New York bound, having won this year's FOX News Channel's "College Challenge," a national video news competition open to undergraduates from universities across the country.
Carla Franco of Los Angeles, Sabrina Johnson of Vista, Peter Martinez of Long Beach and Robert Moran of Pomona produced "SoCal Immigration: Law, Labor, Liberty," a news video featuring an interview with James Gilchrist, co-founder of the Minuteman Project.
The winning team will be in-studio guests on Friday's edition of "FOX & Friends" to discuss the experience of making the video and entering the contest. The program airs locally from 4-6 a.m.
"This is a national spotlight for the university. It exemplifies the strength of our students and the broadcast journalism program here at Cal State Fullerton," said Brent M. Foster, assistant professor of communications and the group's adviser. "I'm very proud of these guys, they did it all on their own."
The FOX News Channel "College Challenge" was created to recognize, encourage and support excellence in broadcast journalism programs across the country. The contest is open to two- or four-person student teams from universities with bachelor degree programs in communications, broadcast journalism, journalism or their equivalent. Students could select from 12 designated topics as subjects for the videos, which could not exceed 3 1/2 minutes.
The Cal State Fullerton team chose "Illegal Aliens: Let Them Stay or Move Them Out?"
"It all boiled down to the logistics - what contacts were available for each topic, how accessible was it to tape video footage, and what would make an interesting story relevant to not only Southern California but the entire nation," said Martinez, who taped all the interviews using his own camera. "Producing a package about immigration was a timely topic and really our best option."
Franco interviewed a smuggler who has been caught three times by authorities.
"I'm ecstatic about winning this competition, " she said. "We each brought something unique to the production of the news package and we can now see that it really paid off."
Moran landed the interview with Gilchrist, who invited both Moran and Martinez into his home, where he talked on camera about immigration and its impact on the United States.
"I felt that when we were working on this project everything came together like magic," Moran said. "For me, having Asperger's Syndrome made this award extra special because it's proof that any obstacle can be overcome."
Johnson provided the team with two interviews: a UC San Diego professor of sociology and a housekeeper who fled an abusive husband in Mexico so that she could support her family with a job in the United States.
"Immigration is an influential topic to me because I grew up watching very special people in my life clean homes for freedom and a better life," said Johnson. "Working on this project gave each of us the opportunity to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone and gave us the chance to demonstrate our skills and passions."
After all the field production was completed, the group chose what parts of the interviews to use and developed a script, then Martinez recorded the voiceover. During the postproduction video editing, Martinez said he knew that the group had a real chance to win the competition.
"I just had a feeling that all the pieces were coming together, and I knew that our video would surpass the judging criteria," said Martinez. "This is such a big opportunity for us to showcase the future of broadcast journalism and make our professor proud, while putting Cal State Fullerton in the spotlight as it celebrates its 50th anniversary."
"During the time we put this news package together we learned a great deal about each other, including the passion we have for great news reporting. The four of us are hard-working and dedicated individuals, who I truly believe will have a bright future in mass media communications," said Franco.
The top prize they garnered is a $20,000 cash award - half of which goes to the team and the other half to the Communications Department for scholarships, grants or new equipment.
The students also are enjoying an all-expense-paid trip to New York City, including spending money, and are being escorted there by assistant professor Foster.