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Graduate hones skills at Cronkite School


May 06, 2011

Journalism major Tessa Muggeridge remembers listening to Professor Rick Rodriguez talk about how he sees stories everywhere he goes, even though he no longer works at a newspaper.

That moment during a depth-reporting class clicked for Muggeridge, who developed the same instincts during her four years at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

“I feel the same thing. I have a natural curiosity about how things work,” she said. “I find stories everywhere.” 

Muggeridge honed her storytelling skills during her years at the Cronkite School. She is graduating in May, part of the first class of Cronkite students to complete a new program that allows them to earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four years.

Choosing journalism and ASU’s Cronkite School was an easy decision for Muggeridge, who found inspiration in a New York Times story about the war in Iraq during her senior year of high school. She realized then how important it was to provide unbiased, in-depth reporting.

“I always had an interest in journalism – consuming it, enjoying it and recognizing its importance,” she said. “Everywhere I went people were saying great things about the Cronkite School.”

At the school, she got involved almost immediately at The State Press, ASU’s independent student media outlet. She’s held many positions, starting out as a police reporter, then moving to copy editor and news editor and eventually executive editor in charge of the newspaper, its website and State Press Magazine.

“I’ve grown up at The State Press,” she said. “The State Press newsroom will always be my favorite place on campus.”

Muggeridge called being a reporter “just fun.”  But she also enjoyed editing because it gave her a chance to celebrate the thrill of first-time front-pages stories with younger reporters and the chance to appreciate excellent articles that landed on her desk.

Muggeridge has earned a 3.79 GPA while at the Cronkite School, impressing her professors with her talent and work ethic.

“Tessa is an outstanding person in every way. She’s a talented reporter and editor – as well as a respected leader in The State Press newsroom,” said Jason Manning, director of Student Media at ASU.  “She took advantage of every opportunity to learn, achieve and grow while at ASU and the Cronkite School. In doing so, she has built a resume that would make many professionals jealous.”

Muggeridge represented the Cronkite School last year on the national News21 project, a journalism initiative funded by the Carnegie Corporation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. She was among a group of journalism students from 11of the nation’s top universities who wrote a series of stories about national transportation safety. Part of the project was published by The Washington Post and featured on msnbc.com. Muggeridge’s stories explored how fatigue among pilots, drivers, train operators and boat captains causes accidents.

“It was intense, but also really exhilarating,” she said. “Transportation safety has an impact on every person every single day. Those were important stories to tell.”

Among the memorable experiences that came out of those interviews was tracking down a man who dove out of a plane before it exploded. He was doing missionary work in American Samoa, and Muggeridge contacted him by posting on his blog and asking for an interview. 

“He knew all of the people on the plane who had died,” Muggeridge said. “A year later, he took that flight again.”

Muggeridge, who also completed two reporting internships at The Arizona Republic, is now sending out resumes across the country, seeking work as a reporter.

“Eventually, I would like to be an investigative reporter,” she said. “Bringing news to people is really important. I think it’s important to know what’s going on around you.”

Contributed by Julie Newberg