LAWRENCE — Bob Dotson, the NBC News correspondent whose long-running series “The American Story with Bob Dotson” is a regular feature on “Today,” will receive the 2015 William Allen White Foundation National Citation on April 23 at the University of Kansas.
Dotson, a 1968 graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications, tells stories of “ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” such as:
- Veterans who honor their fallen comrades every week by washing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
- A high school janitor who didn’t want to give up the job he loved even after winning a $3 million lottery prize
- A teacher who is spending her retirement seeing the country, traveling 18,000 miles with only her horses and dog
"Bob Dotson is the epitome of all that a storyteller should be,” said Ann M. Brill, dean of the School of Journalism. “He finds fascinating subjects, engages the audience, and we come away from his stories feeling we are better for hearing his stories. We are honored to be celebrating an alumnus of the school with the 2015 national citation.”
Dotson will accept the citation and give the William Allen White Day public lecture during the annual ceremony at 4 p.m. April 23, in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union. The event is free and open to the public; reception and book signing immediately following. The William Allen White Foundation trustees chose Dotson to receive the citation, which has been presented annually since 1950.
The William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications is named in White’s honor. White (1868-1944) was a nationally influential Kansas editor and publisher. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 and posthumously in 1947.
Dotson began his broadcasting career at the NBC station in Oklahoma City, WKY-TV (now KFOR-TV), where he was director of Special Projects. He joined NBC News in 1975 as a reporter at WKYC-TV, the NBC television station in Cleveland. Two years later, he opened NBC's first news bureau in Dallas from which he covered Central America. In 1979, he moved to the NBC News bureau in Atlanta. In addition to his Today and NBC Nightly News assignments, he also worked on several NBC News magazine programs.
Dotson’s third book, “American Story, a Lifetime Search for Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things,” is a New York Times best-seller. His literary works have won the Christopher Award for outstanding nonfiction in 2014 and the George Washington Honor Medal for excellence. He has also received more than 100 awards for his work in broadcast journalism, including eight National Emmys and 11 nominations. The Radio Television Digital News Association has honored Dotson with a record five Edward R. Murrow Awards – for Best Network News Writing and more than a dozen other awards for his reporting. The Society of Professional Journalists cited him three times for Best Network Television News Series. Dotson’s work has won top journalism awards from the National Press Photographers, DuPont-Columbia and Robert F. Kennedy Foundation.
Dotson was born in St. Louis. He received a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from KU (1968) and a master's degree in television and film from Syracuse University (1969), where he was a Graduate Fellow and Outstanding Masters candidate. While attending college, he was a reporter and photographer for KMBC-TV in Kansas City and was news director and reporter for KFKU-KANU-FM in Lawrence.
Dotson lives in New York City with his wife, the former Linda Puckett. They have one daughter, Amy.
Other notable recipients of the William Allen White Citation include Cokie Roberts, Leonard Pitts Jr., Paul Steiger, Gerald F. Seib, Candy Crowley, Seymour Hersh, John Carroll, Walter Cronkite, Arthur O. Sulzberger, Helen Thomas, Charles Kuralt, Bernard Shaw, Bob Woodward, Molly Ivins, Gordon Parks and Frank Deford. A complete list of recipients is at www.journalism.ku.edu.