Storytellers: Cynthia Izaguirre ('97)

Cynthia Izaguirre (Photo by Jonathan Reynolds)Although the heartwarming “Our Neighbor” segments that Cynthia Izaguirre (’97) creates for WFAA-TV/Channel 8 are among her favorites, the co-anchor of News 8 Daybreak says she feels a sense of pride in breaking a news story. She remembers Sept. 8 when the remnants of Tropical Strom Hermine dropped as much as 15 inches of rain on parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth area and caused extensive flooding, street closings and evacuations of some schools and apartment complexes near overflowing creeks.

“We were streaming live the entire day at WFAA.com, and we were the first station to break in on regular programming because we needed to warn viewers of the flooding dangers,” Izaguirre says. “At the same time, when you have a breaking weather story or other news story, you need to make sure the information you have is absolutely correct.”

Izaguirre, who grew up in Dallas, says she became interested in weather reporting in junior high school, when she regularly watched WFAA meteorologist Troy Dungan.

Not wanting to leave the Dallas-Fort Worth area after graduating from Dallas’ Thomas Jefferson High School, and realizing she wanted to report news other than the weather, Izaguirre chose UNT for its strong program in broadcast journalism. She recalls UNT faculty members Richard Wells (’65, ’75 M.J.) and Keith Shelton (’72 M.A.) giving her the realities about a career in broadcast journalism — “the low pay and the fact that this is not a 9-to-5 job.”

“All of the professors said that if you are going to enter the journalism profession, you should expect to write constantly and write well, and have an incredible work ethic,” she says, adding that many high school students who want careers in broadcast journalism now realize that the profession isn’t always glamorous.

“I’m a journalist, first and foremost. I am not a TV star, and if a student says, ‘I want to be on TV,’ it needs to be rephrased to ‘I want to be a journalist,’” Izaguirre says.

After graduating from UNT, Izaguirre left the Dallas-Fort Worth area for anchor/reporting jobs at KTAB-TV in Abilene and KLTV-TV in Tyler. In January 2000, she began working as a general assignment reporter at KOAT-TV, the ABC affiliate in Albuquerque, N.M., where she worked her way up to co-anchor of the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts.

While at KOAT-TV, she received numerous awards from the Associated Press and the New Mexico Broadcasters Association. In her award-winning series, the “Red or Green” restaurant reports, Izaguirre exposed Albuquerque’s best and worst restaurants for food safety. She also covered the historic and devastating Cerro Grande fire, which destroyed hundreds of homes in Los Alamos, and landed an exclusive interview with then-President Bill Clinton during his visit to the Navajo nation of Shiprock.

In January 2008, Izaguirre returned to her hometown for her job as co-anchor of “News 8 Daybreak.”

“I’m really proud to be a UNT graduate and I’m proud that I’m working in my hometown. Dreams do come true,” she says.