In June 2005, a U.S. Supreme Court case ruled Connecticut town’s government had the right to take over some of the city’s residential land for redevelopment as more than 100 residents fought to keep their homes.
In the repercussions of the Kelo v. City of New London decision, citizens erupted in disapproval, and lawmakers proposed legislation to protect homes from eminent domain, a story retold by two College of Communication seniors who recently won a $10,000 prize for their coverage.
Brittany Oat said she could not control her emotions when she found out she and fellow classmate Ted Fioraliso had won the fourth annual Fox News Channel College Challenge, in which undergraduate students report both sides of an issue from a list of topics provided by Fox News.
“It’s definitely the highlight of my career up until this point,” Oat said. “I think it’s almost better than getting a job.”
The prize money also includes an additional $10,000 for butv10.
“We were excited and very proud that their piece was accepted as the winning story,” said butv10 faculty adviser Christophor Cavalieri. “We’re very proud of what they have accomplished, not only in this competition, but in their four years at the college.”
In their news tape, Fioraliso and Oat reported on eminent domain — the process of government taking over land for building purposes — and based their newscast on the 2005 Supreme Court case.
Three days before Christmas, the pair traveled to New London to interview the former mayor, the city’s attorney and residents who had been evicted, Fioraliso said.
“We did everything on our own from the beginning,” Oat said. “Rather than retelling the eminent domain story, we took it a step further. It was a 50-50 project between the two of us.”
Fioraliso said the duo’s talents complimented each other – Oat did the writing and reporting, and Fioraliso managed the filming.
The pair said they attributed their victory to their personalized telling of the story.
“I’m really proud of our video because we were able to get both sides of the story,” Fioraliso said. “I thought it was shot really well.”
Oat said she hopes butv10 will use the prize money for new equipment for broadcast students.
“I think the money should go back to students,” Oak said. “I’d like to see some of the money be used down in D.C. as well because it’s helped a lot of people’s careers get a jumpstart.”
The money awarded to COM will be used to further the educational and entertainment programming offered by butv10, Cavalieri said in an email.
“I would like it to go to improving the technology of the station, possibly some high-definition equipment,” Fioraliso said. “I hope to see the fruits of whatever becomes of this money.”
The broadcasting contest was the first Fioraliso and Oat had entered, but both students said they have had prior broadcasting experience working on Inside Boston, butv10’s spin off of “60 Minutes.”
“We are butv10’s news magazine,” Fioraliso said. “Not many people can say they created a news magazine for a network that reaches 3,000 people, so that’s pretty cool.”
“The professors in the broadcast journalism program, as well as the rest of COM, have always been there,” Oat said. “The professors become like parents to you.
“Ultimately, I think we are better than so many schools,” she continued. “I don’t think anyone has this one-on-one relationship.”