Denise Dowling — School of Journalism
The journalism industry today doesn’t look like it did when Denise Dowling was a student here 27 years ago. But neither does the UM School of Journalism.
“It was really bare bones compared to what we’re offering students now,” Dowling says. “But one thing that hasn’t changed is the family kind of feeling that we have in the program.”
Dowling began her journalism career while still a UM student, when she got a job running master control at Missoula’s KPAX-TV station. After graduating, she worked in TV and radio for 20 years, winning several Emmy Awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award for producing. In the end, Montana called her back, and in 2000 she joined the professionally experienced, award-decorated faculty at her alma mater.
Dowling has since been named the country’s most promising new journalism professor, has directed election coverage for Montana PBS and has been selected as a media trainer by the Society of Professional Journalists. Her students have led the University to rank in the top 10 nationally for Hearst Journalism Awards.
While Dowling sometimes misses the adrenaline rush of being on the frontline of the newsroom, she says her teaching is equally rewarding. “I can still help shape journalism through these young people I’m teaching,” she says.
Her success is evident. The 2008 capstone documentary project that Dowling’s students produced about incarcerated mothers was named Best of Festival at the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts and won a bronze medal at the New York Festivals International Film & Video Awards.
“There’s just nothing like that moment when you see the lights come on for a student,” Dowling says. “That’s the most personally gratifying thing for me.” That investment in her students brings warm returns later. “It’s hard to see them go, but exciting to see where they land.”