The world of reporting has to be one of the most competitive industries to break into. While it’s hard enough to make a name for yourself in one area of the business, Kaylee Hartung has been able to do it all.
Whether you recognize her from her time on ESPN, CNN or now ABC, chances are you’ve seen Hartung on your TV before. You may feel like you already know her from her news reports, but let’s get to know more about ABC’s Kaylee Hartung.
Early life and introduction to reporting
Born and raised in Louisiana, Hartung’s interest in becoming a reporter started with a tragedy. On May 4th 1996, Hartung’s father was flying a vintage World War II plane in an air show. During the show, his plane crashed into the runway, and he was killed. Kaylee witnessed reporters covering the story, and decided that that’s what she wanted to do when she grew up. Although she was only 10 years old at the time, Hartung was serious about her dream.
After graduating from Episcopal High School in Louisiana, Hartung went on to study journalism and political science at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. During college, she interned with NBC Nightly News. One day into the internship was enough for her to know that she was on the right path. After graduating from college, she landed her first full-time job with CBS News. Next, she worked for Bob Schieffer on CBS’ Face The Nation.
Despite getting her first big break in the sports world, and not news, Hartung said, “If you’d have told me, as I was standing at my graduation without a job lined up, that eight years later I’d be reporting for ESPN on college sports at the highest level, I’d have laughed at you.” Although she wasn’t closed off to the idea, sports reporting is not where Hartung saw herself. She grew up idolizing Katie Couric and says she never wanted to be “the next Erin Andrews.”
Hartung at ESPN
Hartung got her start at ESPN in the fall of 2012. While at the network, she primarily reported on college football and basketball, but appeared on SportsCenter as well. She worked the sidelines for SEC Nation‘s Saturday football coverage, and eventually moved up the ranks as the sideline reporter for the SEC Network’s Prime Time Football Game. In addition to her primary duties, she covered the College Football Playoff and both the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments.
Hartung was having a ton of success, becoming one of the most popular reporters at ESPN. Jesse Palmer, who worked closely with Hartung, said “Kaylee’s preparedness and passion for college football is what I think makes her stand out on the sidelines and stand out in the field.” He added that “she basically lives out of a suitcase—traveling all over the country on short notice, and she continually delivers top-level reporting.”
When asked what she brings to the broadcast, Hartung said, “My questions are a lot different from ones asked by the commentators.” She is more interested in “the story” than the ins and outs of the game. While at ESPN, Hartung won two Emmys. One for her feature reporting on Texas Longhorns fan Brandon Puente, and one for hosting a women’s history month special on the Longhorn Network.
Once Sam Ponder left College GameDay for Sunday NFL Countdown, many thought Hartung would take her place. To everyone’s surprise, Hartung left ESPN before Ponder’s replacement was decided on. In April 2017, Hartung announced that she was leaving the Worldwide Leader to work as a correspondent for CNN.
Hartung’s days with CNN
Hartung’s move from ESPN to CNN really highlighted her versatility as a reporter. Although SEC football is a very big deal, the stories that Kaylee Hartung covered with CNN were about as significant as they come.
When a man drove through a crowd of people during dueling protests in Charlottesville, Virginia and killed a young woman, Hartung was on the scene. She covered the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and various hurricanes, including Hurricane Irma.
Her current job at ABC
After about two years with CNN, Hartung left for a job with ABC News. At the network, she has covered a wide-range of topics, including murder stories, feel good stories, and the Coronavirus pandemic. In March 2020, Hartung reported from Seattle, where the initial COVID-19 outbreak happened in the United States. She tested positive for the virus four days after returning from Seattle.
To get a better idea of how versatile of a reporter she is, check out all of Hartung’s stories with ABC here.
Personal life, Twitter, and Instagram
Hartung is currently single and has never been married. Judging by her Instagram, it seems like she’s constantly on the road reporting for ABC. While she keeps her personal life relatively private, she has been documenting her mature oocyte cryopreservation, also known as “egg freezing”, on social media. When asked about having kids, she said her “20s came and went” and that she prioritized her career over her personal life. She recognizes that women have a biological clock and decided to take matters into her own hands. You can read more about her journey here.
She is also fairly active on Twitter, where she has over 100,000 followers.
It’s pretty rare to see a reporter with so much experience under her belt at such a young age. Hartung is only 35 years old and has already worked for NBC, CBS, ESPN, CNN and ABC. Assuming she keeps hustling, expect to see Kaylee Hartung for years to come.