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Cronkite School graduate earns broadcasting experience

December 06, 2010

Natalie Podgorski graduates in December with a bachelor’s degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, a 3.99 grade point average and a resume full of practical experience.

As an ABC News on Campus reporter, Podgorski worked with ABC in New York to produce regional stories for the network’s digital and broadcast news outlets. 

ABC News tapped Podgorski to help host an election night town hall at the Cronkite School with ABC correspondent David Muir and Facebook Director of Marketing Randi Zuckerberg.  Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos aired excerpts from the town hall during their national election night coverage and the event was shown on NewsNow, ABC News’ 24/7 cable channel, and live-streamed on Facebook and ABC.

“It was an incredible opportunity,” Podgorski said.

It also was a challenge since the town hall went for seven hours without a break. Podgorski was used to half-hour live television shifts as an anchor of NewsWatch, the Cronkite School’s award-winning newscast, and she wasn’t sure how she would handle a seven-hour live shift.

“It was nerve-racking,” she said. 

Podgorski started by doing her research: She talked to other students and put the word out on Facebook to see what issues were important to them. During the town hall, she worked the room when Muir was busy online and pulled the night off without a hitch.

While the town hall was one of her most memorable experiences at the Cronkite School, Podgorski said she also values her work as an anchor and reporter for NewsWatch.

“I was sent all over the state to cover stories,” ranging from a piece about a controversial Prescott mural to reports on the impact of Arizona’s anti-immigration law, she said. Most of the immigrants she interviewed “had no ties to Mexico anymore,” she said. “They had come to the U.S. when they were really young. Their life is here.”

Podgorski became interested in journalism as a child when she would watch the news with her father, whom she described as a “news junkie.” After working on the student newspaper in high school, she started looking at colleges and ASU kept coming up as a good fit.

“ASU seemed to be the right place. They had the best programs by far,” she said.

Although she didn’t know a soul when she arrived at the university, Cronkite has since become a second home. “People in the Cronkite School truly have become a second family. They really do care,” she said.

Chief among those people is Sue Green, assistant news director and broadcast director of Cronkite News Service, who encouraged Podgorski early on to dive into her stories without any hesitation.

“I’m so thankful that she told me that,” Podgorski said. “She has pushed me to come out of my shell.”

Assistant Dean Mark Lodato encouraged her to apply for a Roy W. Howard Foundation scholarship that allowed her to accompany eight other journalists from across the country to Japan last summer. She also worked two semesters as an intern for ABC 15’s Sonoran Living program and in the station’s news department.

Podgorski hopes to land a television reporting position after graduation. And she’s confident that she’s made the right choice of career. 

“It’s a very rewarding job. It’s a profession that enables you to help others,” she said.