It's a Good Day When John Oliver Spoofs Your Work!
Back in 2011, before I started Big Red Media, I was working as a news reporter in Naples, Florida. While honing my craft of storytelling and mastering my video work, I stumbled upon video GOLD! I had received an email from a local attorney who had the wherewithal to know when a boring court case could be turned into something visual that would strike a chord with just about anyone in America. Mind you, this was a time when the recession was still hitting everyone hard and Southwest Florida wasn't known mostly for its pristine beaches...it was more so known for being the mecca center of home foreclosures, with Cape Coral (just north of Naples by about 40 miles) leading the country.
The story was about two homeowners who had bought their home cash, but somehow Bank of America got it on their books that the couple had actually held a mortgage with them. Talk about a clerical error! Despite court records showing Bank of America was completely wrong, the bank went after the homeowners in foreclosure court. I mean, I can't make this stuff up! It took no time for a judge to see the evidence and rule in the couple's favor, plus order the bank to pay court costs the homeowners racked up fighting the case since it was entirely the banking giant's fault. That's not where the story ends though. After all that, Bank of America never paid the thousands of dollars it owned the Naples residents. So what does their attorney, Todd Allen, do? He files to "foreclose" on the local Bank of America branch, just as any bank would do to a homeowner who doesn't pay up...moving truck, deputies and attorney in tow!
I was fortunate enough to be the only local news station present for the show, along with the local newspaper. This my friends, shows why video is SO powerful. My story was picked up across the GLOBE simply because it was a video. People want to SEE more than they want to read what happens, especially in this case. Lesson here: Videos make people feel emotions. When a large percentage of American homeowners were at the mercy of the banks and being tossed out of their homes, this story hit a nerve, the little guy can win against the giant corporations. And boy, was the story seen! It was front page of every major news organization's website, blogs, Facebook, you name it. It was so widely shared that last I checked, because it still gets passed around nearly a decade later, it had more than 30 million views online. The best part was when John Oliver, who was doing skits for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at the time, spoofed my story! I was even asked to be a part of the segment; however, my bosses put the kibosh on that idea for fear of what direction Daily Show producers would go with the skit. (Another lesson here: It's often better to ask for forgiveness than permission!)
View the original story I did, the follow up to that story (after it crashed my newsroom's website) and the hilariously funny John Oliver skit "The Forecloser".