Telling the story from both sides of the fence

In News

A video news story on immigration titled “SoCal Immigration: Law, Labor, Liberty” produced by Cal State Fullerton seniors Carla Franco, Peter Martinez, Robert Moran and alumni Sabrina Johnson won the annual FOX News Channel “College Challenge.”

The Tuesday before spring break, Brent M. Foster, the group’s adviser and a CSUF assistant professor of communications, recalled receiving a phone call from FOX.

“The first thing she said was, ‘Are these really your students?'” Foster said. “I had to convince her that they were students.”

As a reward, the group will receive a monetary prize of $20,000, a trip to New York City for a live interview on “FOX & Friends,” $150 spending money and an interview for an internship or entry-level position.

“I’m very excited,” said Moran, a communications major. “For broadcasters, FOX and CNN are pretty much the prime market for news, so it’s a big deal.”

It was not easy for the group to get started on putting together the news package. The clock began ticking for them after finals in the fall semester. That would normally signal a time for winter break, but for Franco, 27, Johnson, 27, Martinez, 21, and Moran, 30, it was only the beginning.

The “College Challenge” required that each team choose a topic out of a list of 12.

“It all boiled down to immigration, a topic that not only appeals to Southern California, but [it appeals to many people] on a national level,” Martinez, a communications major, said.

They spent countless hours contacting and interviewing sources, filming footage by the border in San Diego and editing in the computer lab, all the while on a tight schedule. In about two weeks, the team was able to interview James Gilchrist, the co-founder of the Minuteman Project. They also spoke with a UC San Diego professor of sociology, a border smuggler and a documented housekeeper.

As a result, with Foster’s guidance and with their collective collaboration, they created a news video about immigration – a story told through the eyes of a documented worker who fled from an abusive husband in Mexico, Martinez said.

“For this particular project, it was a nice mix of talent between each group member,” Martinez said. “Each one brought something to the table.”

While Martinez did the video shooting, Franco, Johnson and Moran conducted interviews. Together, they helped edit the film while keeping Foster’s advice in mind.

The students and the College of Communications will each receive half of the $20,000 prize. The money received by the communications department will be used either for grants, scholarships or equipment, Foster said.

“I think it’s going to put a valuable piece in our student’s resumes,” Foster said. “The [broadcast journalism] program is going to benefit financially, gain exposure and credibility.”

The four students and Foster will be featured live from New York on Friday for an interview on “FOX & Friends” from 7 to 9 a.m. EST.

“New York is the ‘city of dreams’ and I’m so excited. It’s honestly a dream come true for me,” Franco, a senior communications major, said. “If it wasn’t for winning this award ,I don’t know how many more years would go by before I would be able to afford to go there.”

The award-winning video can be seen on

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