Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
WEBSTER - Cassandra Bent grew up in Webster giving to the community, and now that she is a senior and journalism major at Emerson College in Boston, she is still giving back to her community.
She recently produced a documentary entitled “Webster's Main Street Revitalization,” which details the changes the downtown area is going through and contains interviews with town and state officials, including Selectman Deborah Keefe, Town Administrator John McAuliffe, Police Chief Timothy Bent, Lt. Governor Timothy Murray, Senator Richard T. Moore, and Representative Kevin Kuros.
The excellent piece earned Bent an “A” in her class, and even more importantly, is getting the town’s projects a lot of notice as it gets more and more views on YouTube.
Bent could have chosen any topic that she wanted for her project. Living in Boston gave her unlimited possibilities, but instead she chose a topic that was close to her heart.
“Instead of doing some project that is going to be forgettable and isn’t going to help anyone but me, I thought why don’t I help my home town and do something that will be beneficial to where I am from, so I decided to this.”
Raised in Webster, Bent went to Saint Anne’s school for eight years and attended and graduated from Marianapolis Prep School in 2008.
“I feel blessed to have grown up in Webster, my parents are still here and I will always call it my home.”
She went to Bryant College for her freshmen year but knew that her real love was journalism and transferred to Emerson, one of the best journalism schools in the country, for her sophomore year. She said “it was the best choice” she ever made and “loves” the journalism program there.
“The Emerson community, you have to see it to understand what it’s like. Everyone is so passionate, it’s very rare to have anyone who is an undeclared major, everyone knows exactly what they want to do and everyone has huge dreams, whether its films, being a director, journalism. I have done a lot of writing and multimedia. My best friend is in Florida at spring training because she is into sports journalism. Some of my other friends went to the Oscars.”
Bent also loves the Boston community and living on Beacon Hill, just a short walk across the Boston Common from the Emerson campus.
“I always tell people that if you have the opportunity to move to a city then you should move to a city. I am happy every day, you wake up and you walk around, there are tons of people all around, it’s great to be able to walk everywhere. I hardly ever have to take the T because of the location I live in.”
Prior to filming and editing her documentary on downtown Webster, Bent “dabbled in a lot of things.” One of these “things” was blogging on the Boston.com website. She wrote one blog which for two days was the most e-mailed topic on the entire site.
She created a story after finding out that a lot of places in the North End don’t advertise that they have gluten-free food, but carry it. She went to places like Modern Pastry and interviewed them and even sampled their Gluten-free Whoopie Pie, which she said was “out of this world.”
“It was really neat to do that story, a great experience. I got to interview a lot of restaurant owners, I interviewed the founder of Celiac.com and they even blogged about the article on their site.”
In her sophomore year she worked on a comedy news TV show. “Comedy is not really my thing, I am more into hard news but I liked it.” She also has worked on various other shows and has enjoyed it all and it’s no secret that her “passion for journalism is huge” and she stated that more than once while we spoke.
Bent also has a blog called Cassie’s Crime time (http://word.emerson.edu/fall11jr408-bent/), which has interviews and articles about Webster on it.
“My aspirations are to work somewhere in crime as a crime reporter or doing public relations for a large police department or a government agency. I had an internship doing PR for the US Marshalls in Boston last spring and loved it so much. Reporting on law enforcement is definitely where my passion lies so I created the Cassie Crime time blog. A lot of it is curated; some of it is original content. The whole page about Webster is original.”
Shooting the documentary on downtown Webster was an obvious step towards her goal, and having her father as the Chief of Police in Webster definitely helped. The response to it has been quite favorable.
“Its always nice to get good feedback. Having feedback from people in Webster was nice because you have someone who is not looking at your shot, someone who is not a journalist is giving you the feedback. They all said really great things about it. Senator Moore’s office was real nice and everyone e-mailed my Dad about it.”
She nailed it from a school project standpoint as well. “I got A’s from two different professors on the project. One of my professors gave me really good feedback and was impressed by how many sources I had.”
This was her first real long-form project and took over 20 hours to shoot and another 50-100 hours to edit, but the hard work has paid off and she was very pleased with the results.
With her college career ending this spring, Bent is in decision- making mode, or trying to be any way. “I am having a difficult time deciding exactly what I want to do. My passion for journalism is obviously huge.”
Bent understands that it is hard to get a public relations job in law enforcement without experience, so she plans on getting more journalism experience.
“I am looking to move away for a few years and I am debating whether to go down the road of journalism or public relations. I definitely want to do something with law enforcement in some way. I know that I will keep writing and making videos because I know that is where my passion is.”
Eventually she says she will move wherever her career takes her, but as far as the first move goes, she does have a plan. She is focusing on Seattle, Washington, which is close to where her brother TJ, who is an Air Force pilot stationed in Tacoma, lives.
“We are best friends, he is the person that I call first and I am the first person that he calls. We have always been close.”
As for growing up in Webster, Bent said this: “It was great. I wouldn’t change my childhood for anything. My father is great; both our parents have had a lot of patience with us. We grew up volunteering at Webster events. We grew up around the police department. We have really been instilled with helping our community and helping others.”
Cassie Bent’s video on the Revitalization of Webster can be seen on YouTube at the address below.
- Wednesday, 21 March 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News