Cal Poly: Needle moving on gun legislation?

Following two breezy stories, our group came into Monday’s story pitch feeling like we needed something a little meatier. We flirted with topics that were similar to our stories in the past – one of which we actually pitched. Brady agreed, however, that our group was in need of a hard-hitting story.

There couldn’t have been a more relevant topic than the one we ended up choosing. Following the recent events in Parkland, California, the gun legislation conversation has never been louder than it is right now. The needle finally seems to be moving politically.

Tackling a story on gun legislation was equally as intimidating as it was relevant. I have to admit that I did not envy our group member, Ali Heston, who was writing the story.

Ali was clearly intimidated by this monster of a topic. The issue is very controversial, sensitive and dense. Before even the struggle of writing the story began, Ali and the rest of us had trouble narrowing down our angle. Did we want only the voices of the students? What would we ask them? Should it be about protocol or legislation? Should we talk about Parkland?

“I can’t help but feel pretty intimidated by this story. It’s such a sensitive topic, especially right now. I just really want to do it right for myself and those who will be reading it.”

We asked for the help of Brady and Brenden and attempted to pinpoint the best way to approach this story. It wasn’t until Ali was done with her first draft the following week that the story truly found its angle. (Hence, a necessary extension).

“Here in California, I think we have some pretty good gun control laws, especially on the college campuses, our legislators have taken it very seriously and the CSU system has taken it very seriously, that’s why they have invested quite a bit of money into training and equipment,” said Chief Hughes.

After looking over the draft (Which included interviews from George Hughes, the University Police Department VP, Jordan Li, a member of the CP marksmanship club, and a written email from President Armstrong) Brady and Ali decided the story should be focused on how the needle is now moving following Parkland.

With a few extra days, Ali is now seeking follow up interviews, as well as finding more voices to add to her story. She is doing this with the new story angle in mind.

Our other group member, Tori Leets, had some experiences of her own in this story. As the video team member, Tori was looking to film the interviews, but was struggling with relevant B roll. How do you bring a camera about guns to life?

Answer: find the guns.


Tori spent the evening at the Cal Poly shooting range, where she quite literally immersed herself in the story. The marksmanship club gave Tori a run down on shooting a rifle. Tori said she spent over an hour at the cold gun range shooting targets and hearing about the club.

“Guns normally freak me out but it was really cool to see them in this safe, controlled environment. This experience I think actually helped me with the story.”

FullSizeRender.jpgDSC_0004.MOV.00_00_20_11.Still001.jpgFinally, our last group member, Allison Martinez, was in charge of interactive. Allison was able to take advantage of what she does best and created a word-on-the-street style video.

We, as a group, thought it was important that an aspect of the story featured student voices. While Ali is focusing more on the credible, knowledgable sources, the video is meant to illustrate the thoughts of average students at Cal Poly.

Allison took the the UU during “UU hour” and stopped seven different students. She said while some people were scared off by the cameras and the touchy subject, others were eager to share their opinions.

“The feedback I got was diverse and really showed the wide spectrum of political beliefs we have at Cal Poly. I really liked that.”

While I personally wasn’t directly involved in the creation of this story, I am passionate about this topic and excited to shed some light on an extremely relevant and important issue in our country.