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Elizabeth Smart to work for ABC News

Elizabeth Smart to work for ABC News

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Just over a month after her kidnapper and abuser, Brian David Mitchell, was sentenced to life in prison, Elizabeth Smart is set to begin a new chapter of her life.

Smart is expected to go to work for ABC News' Good Morning America.

The Daily Beast is reporting Smart will serve as a contributor for the network morning show and could appear on other programs such as Nightline.

Reporter Howard Kurtz spoke to ABC spokeswoman Julie Townsend, who said they've been working on this deal for months and indicated Smart's role will be "helping viewers understand missing-persons stories from the perspective of knowing what a family experiences when a loved one goes missing."

University of Utah communications director Louise Degn says it's a good move on ABC's part.

"(Elizabeth's) well-known, she's well-liked. She comes across on television very well," Degn said.

Degn also calls the hire timely. "There are so many strong news stories about abused children, children who have been killed, this trial in Florida that just finished, that people are really interested in this issue now. It's come out in a way that it's never come out before," she said. "Because (Elizabeth) really wants to educate the public, this is a perfect fit. She cannot be a reporter because a reporter has to be objective. That she could never be, given the situation. But as a commentator talking about the issue, it will be perfect for her and her goals."

"Everybody around the country knows her story. She really showed herself to be an impressive woman, a really articulate speaker, and should do very well explaining these issues to a national television audience," Andy Miller, a former network morning producer, told KSL. "I think that's what ABC is really attracted to about her: What she went through to be able to get up and speak in front of cameras, like she's done on more than one occasion. Really an impressive characteristic for her."

Miller believes ABC will ask her to be part of a number of their programs such as 'Good Morning, America' and the evening broadcast in addition to ABC's news magazines. "It will be a very careful coordination between those shows to make sure that her time is scheduled appropriately and that everybody gets a fair chance to speak with her," he said.

Because of her agreement with ABC, Elizabeth cannot speak with other media until the official announcement next week.

Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father, says all three major networks offered deals for Elizabeth to come work for them, but ABC's deal was the best option. He also said finishing her college degree is a top priority for Elizabeth.

The Daily Beast is reporting Smart could appear on air as early as next week to comment on the Casey Anthony story.

Written with contributions from Graydon Johns and Carole Mikita.

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Graydon Johns
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