Diana Dawson worked as a reporter in newsrooms nationwide for 17 years. During that time, she wrote investigative pieces about teachers' sexual misconduct with their students, breakdowns in state mental health systems and how foster care abused its charges. As her specialty developed in social issues coverage, she wrote magazine-style stories about life in a burn center, an old farmer battling his wife's Alzheimer's disease and an Indian tribe's quest to defeat poverty with education.
Over the years, her work won scores of national, regional and local awards, including making her a finalist as part of a newsroom team for the Pulitzer Prize, the finalist for the Ernie Pyle Award, the Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University and finalist twice for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.
Dawson also wrote a nationally syndicated column about family television for 10 years that appeared weekly in more than 70 newspapers. She has freelanced as a writing consultant for corporations, a writing coach for newsrooms and a writer for many publications including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Austin Monthly magazine. She has presented her seminar on managing long-term stories for several of the Poynter Institute's National Writers' Workshops and for other journalism groups in the U.S. and Canada.
During more than 15 years as a School of Journalism lecturer, she has served as course coordinator for the beginning newswriting course, as editor of the Texas Journalist and co-authored “News Writing by The Texas Quartet” with George Sylvie, Dave Garlock and Wanda Garner Cash. She has taught the beginning newswriting course now called Reporting Words since 1996 and has often taught feature writing.
Dawson created an innovative series of courses for Senior Fellows called “Communicating the Human Side of Social Issues” that takes students into the city to explore topics such as gentrification and immigration. She was invited to be an original member of UT Opportunity Forum, an interdisciplinary collaboration of faculty engaging the University and community leaders in developing inclusive approaches to addressing complex social issues.
She founded and for many years coordinated an annual writing conference for more than 450 elementary school children, which allows them to work for a day with journalists, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, songwriters and novelists.
Dawson earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1980. She is married to Osler McCarthy. They have two children, Gabe and Grace.
Senior Fellows: Communicating the Human Side of Social Issues