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Tracy Dahlby Profile Photo

Tracy Dahlby

School of Journalism




Tracy Dahlby joined the faculty as professor and holder of the Frank A. Bennack, Jr. Chair in Journalism in 2006 after a career mainly spent in international reporting. His interests at the University of Texas at Austin include examining the changing roles of both foreign reporting and journalistic storytelling in a time of digital revolution, and in helping students cope with and benefit from such changes.

Dahlby’s latest book is “Into the Field: A Foreign Correspondent’s Notebook,” a memoir of long-distance reporting published by the University of Texas Press in October 2014. He is currently collaborating with fellow faculty member Eli Reed on “The Symphony of Frank” (working title), a documentary film.

In 2009, Dahlby founded Reporting Texas, a program that today serves as a hub for the School of Journalism’s professional practice curriculum and platform for editing and publishing its best reporting work. In 2011, Dahlby introduced Reporting Texas to the School’s regular curriculum as a capstone-style course.

Other courses Dahlby has authored include “Explanatory Journalism: Storytelling in a Digital Age,” “Reporting the World: A Critical Examination of the U.S. News Media,” and a course for Senior Fellows, the Moody College honors program, called “Storytelling in Digital Times,” which explores the evolution and arc of human storytelling. Dahlby also created “Reporting China: A Foreign Correspondent's Workshop,” a month-long apprentice-style field course that he taught in China in 2008, 2009 and 2011.

Each fall, Dahlby teaches Fundamental Issues in Journalism, a large lecture-style course that serves as the gateway for the journalism major and a primer on how journalists think and work for majors and non-majors alike.

 In 2012, the University of Texas System recognized Dahlby with its Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award. In 2017, he was inducted into UT-Austin’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

Dahlby spent 13 years living in Asia, where he served as Tokyo bureau chief for The Washington Post and Newsweek, respectively, and over his career has covered events in Japan, China, Korea, and Southeast Asia. In 1987, he became managing editor of Newsweek International in New York, where he helped direct and coordinate worldwide news coverage before leaving in 1988 to embark on an independent career. As a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine between 1993 and 2002, Dahlby specialized in writing about Asia. His book about Islamic fundamentalism in Indonesia, “Allah’s Torch: A Report from Behind the Scenes in Asia's War on Terror,” was published in 2005 by William Morrow.

Dahlby was Series Director and co-creator for “The Fifties,” an eight-hour documentary miniseries based on author David Halberstam’s best-selling history of America's signature decade that debuted on The History Channel in 1997. He won a national Sports Emmy Award for his role in producing “SportsCentury,” a series first aired on ESPN in 1999 that examined the lives of the great athletes of the 20th century. Dahlby served as Special Correspondent for “The Pacific Century,” an award-winning series that debuted on PBS in 1992.

Dahlby won an Overseas Press Club Award for Newsweek’s coverage of South Korea’s rise as a trading power in the 1980s. Also as a member of a Newsweek reporting team, he helped produce “The End of the World That Was: Six Lives in the Atomic Age,” a book about the atomic-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He is coauthor with B.H. Kean, M.D., of “MD: One Doctor's Adventures Among the Famous and Infamous From the Jungles of Panama to a Park Avenue Practice.”

Dahlby graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Japan Regional Studies (focus on history), summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1972. He received a Master of Arts in Regional Studies-East Asia from Harvard University in 1976. He studied intensive Japanese at the Inter-University Center in Tokyo, a language program administered by Stanford University, in 1973-1974, and became a research fellow at the University of Tokyo’s faculty of law the following year. He started his journalistic career as a reporter for the AP-Dow Jones Economic Report in Tokyo before taking a job as Tokyo correspondent for the Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review in 1976.

Dahlby was a visiting professor of journalism at Eugene Lang College, the New School for Liberal Arts, in New York City during the 2005-2006 academic year. He served as director of the School of Journalism at UT-Austin from 2008 to 2010.