M.A. Grad Having an Award-Filled Year

Posted on: June 13, 2017

Scott Eason ’00, who graduated from ComArtSci with a master’s in visual journalism, is having quite the year: a Society of Professional Journalists national award, a Gracie, a Headliner and three Emmy nominations for his work with the consumer investigative journalism team at KPIX 5 CBS.  

“When you find yourself standing Scott Easonon a stage in front of a few hundred of your peers who are applauding your effort and your work, it’s a little life-changing,” said Eason. “More accurately, it’s perspective-changing. It’s restorative. It’s re-inspiring. It helps you find a reinvigoration of purpose.”

Team Player

Aside from his freelance videography business, Eason has been working as the videographer for the ConsumerWatch Team for KPIX-TV in San Francisco, California with reporter Julie Watts and producer Whitney Gould.

“It takes some time and trust from everyone to build a team, but when you do, everyone on that team brings what they do best to the table,” said Eason. “That’s how you create stories that are full of great sound bites, great scripting and great pictures and sound.”

It’s clear that Eason has found himself a dream team. Two of their biggest stories have led to legislative change in California after being featured nationally on CBS This Morning, The Talk and in CBS affiliate news broadcasts. These investigations have been widely recognized for their positive impact on safety issues.

Toxic Safety

While child car seats are crucial for safety, and required by law in all 50 states, the investigative team found that they may also be causing inadvertent harm. Car seat manufacturers have been adding chemical flame retardants to their car seats in order to satisfy federal flammability regulations. However, these regulations were created 45 years ago to address fires in car interiors caused by matches and cigarettes, which are no longer mainstream.

The investigation began as a blog post on Watt’s website, NewsMom.com, and became a much larger story in the process. Their investigation gained national attention after revealing how false advertising, legal loopholes and outdated federal regulations may expose millions of children to concerning and well-known-cancer-causing chemicals.

The team’s coverage on the topic of child car seat safety led to the introduction of new legislation revising the standards. It also won them the SPJ Sigma Delta Chi Award for public service in television journalism, as well as a Gracie in local investigative feature.

Toddler with a Credit Card

The team also focused an investigation on the difficulty of protecting a child’s credit. According to their findings, “Research shows that kids could be 50 times more likely to have their identities stolen than adults, in part, because the kids’ pristine credit records provide a blank slate for thieves and often go unchecked for more than 18 years.” While most people would assume this could easily be fixed by a simple credit freeze, many credit bureaus refuse to let parents freeze their children's credit.

Eason mans the camera for Watt's daughter Cecelia.

Eason mans the camera for Watt's daughter Cecelia.

 

California Assemblyman Mike Gatto cited their coverage of the topic to introduce a new child credit freeze legislation. This new law will give parents the right to freeze their child’s credit. It unanimously passed the state senate and assembly and is now in effect.

The investigation, and subsequent step-by-step guide to freeze a child’s credit, won the team a Headliner for broadcast or cable television stations business and consumer reporting.

Life in the Spotlight

After working on such influential stories, it was only a matter of time before Eason and the rest of the team were recognized for their work. Though each of the awards were significant, Eason admits to having a favorite.

“The SPJ award is what I’m most proud of,” said Eason. “We did some of the most outstanding journalism in the country and our stories had such a great impact on so many people that the Society of Professional Journalists have chosen us as representing the best of what journalism can be.”

Though Eason’s work was also nominated for three Emmys, he walked out of the Northwest Regional Emmy Awards without a trophy on June 3. However, he was pulled up on stage by Watts upon her win. She thanked him for all of his hard work in front of the crowd.

“She got a little teary, which got me really choked up,” said Eason. “Sometimes it’s not the trophy that makes you feel special. It’s the recognition by your peers, in front of your peers, that makes you feel valued and important. It makes you feel like you’ve chosen the right direction in life.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets

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