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Cronkite students nominated for Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards

September 23, 2011

Eleven students from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication have been nominated for the 2011 National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Student Achievement Awards.

The awards are the student component of the Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards given by the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of NATAS. Cronkite students earned 11 out of the student competition’s 17 total nominations.

Cronkite NewsWatch, a nightly 30-minute student-produced newscast produced at Arizona State University and aired live on Arizona PBS, received six nominations, including one for best student newscast. Cronkite NewsWatch is among five Cronkite student productions nominated.

The Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of NATAS awards Emmys each year to professional broadcasters to reward excellence in broadcasting in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and El Centro, Calif. The organization also recognizes exceptional student work with the NATAS Student Achievement Awards and this year added eight new student categories.

Cronkite students received nominations in categories ranging from general-assignment reporting to editing to long-form fiction and nonfiction. Two students, Natalie Podgorski and Lisa Ruhl, received two nominations each. Three students in the school’s combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program, Gardenia Coleman, Daniel Neligh and Cristina Rayas, were nominated for their work.

“It’s exciting to see our student work recognized at this level,” said Mark Lodato, assistant dean and news director at the Cronkite School. “What’s particularly encouraging is that this is the first year there have been so many student categories, and Cronkite students performed well in areas like general-assignment reporting, sports and photography.”

Podgorski’s Cronkite NewsWatch segment “Garage Boxing,” about a former gang member who coaches boxing in his garage, was nominated in the general-assignment reporting and photography categories. Podgorski, who is currently a morning reporter for KTVB, the NBC affiliate in Boise, Idaho, credits the Cronkite School and its faculty with giving her the tools for a successful professional career.

“I wouldn’t have the job I have now if it weren’t for the Cronkite School,” she said.

Other Cronkite nominees include segments from Sun Devils 101, a magazine-style show about ASU athletics and student-athletes that airs on Fox Sports Arizona, and a package from Cronkite Zine, a student-produced online magazine.

Also nominated were two student-produced documentaries. “Stateless in the Dominican Republic” was part of a larger in-depth reporting project under the direction of Rick Rodriguez, the school’s Carnegie Professor of Journalism and Southwest Borderlands Initiative Professor, and ASU Director of Student Media Jason Manning. The students traveled to the Dominican Republic for eight days and examined immigration and border issues in the country. 

“The Keepers,” a documentary produced by students in Faculty Associate Mark Bork’s documentary class, looked behind the scenes at the Phoenix Zoo’s zookeepers and their animals. It aired on PHX11, the City of Phoenix’s cable station.   

In addition, 14 Cronkite School alumni, many of whom now work at Phoenix broadcast outlets, received a total of 20 nominations for their work as professional journalists.

Mike Wong, director of career services at the Cronkite School, said that the alumni nominations demonstrate that Cronkite students are well-prepared for success as professional journalists.

“We’re very proud of our students,” Wong said. “They go on to successful careers and produce award-winning work.”

The 2011 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards will be presented on Oct. 15 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown.

The complete list of Cronkite’s Student Achievement Award nominees:


• Cronkite NewsWatch

• Cronkite NewsWatch staff

News – General Assignment

• “Garage Boxing," Natalie Podgorski for Cronkite NewsWatch

• “Tempe Land Battle,” Anthony Spehar for Cronkite NewsWatch

• “Superior Mining Controversy,” Courtney Godfrey for Cronkite NewsWatch

Long-Form Fiction and Nonfiction

• “The Keepers,” Nicholas Blumberg and Gardenia Coleman

• “Stateless in the Dominican Republic”, Nathan O’Neal, Cristina Rayas and Lisa Ruhl


• “ASU Hockey/Sun Devils 101”, Tom Miller for Cronkite NewsWatch

• “Pat Brock,” Mallory Kydd for Sun Devils 101


• “Garage Boxing,” Natalie Podgorski for Cronkite NewsWatch

• “Border Volunteers,” Daniel Neligh for Cronkite Zine


• Lisa Ruhl

The complete list of Cronkite alumni Rocky Mountain Emmy nominees:

• David Biscobing, ABC 15 (‘07)

• Kyle Burke, ABC 15 (‘97)

• Rob Curry, CBS 5 (‘06) – two nominations

• Rusty Francisco, Fox Sports Arizona (‘94) – four nominations

• Jonathan Hayward, Arizona Cardinals (’05)

• Josh Kelman, Fox Sports Arizona (‘01) – three nominations

• Cameron Kim, Fox Sports Arizona (‘05)

• Kelly McCullough, KAET-TV (‘82)

• Randy Murray, Randy Murray Productions (‘80)

• Katie Raml, ABC 15 (‘99)

• Rich Reid, Cox Sports (‘84) 

• Diana Rodriguez-Beaugrand, Arizona Highways TV (‘88)

• Kelly Taft, Maricopa Association of Governments (‘82)

• Graham Taylor, Fox Sports Arizona (‘00)