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SPJ selects Dorothy Bland, UNT professor, for Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award

dorothy bland

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists has chosen Dorothy Bland as recipient of the Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award. Bland is a professor at the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas.

Each year, SPJ honors an outstanding journalism educator and recognizes their exceptional teaching abilities and commitment to upholding the profession’s highest standards. Bland won this year with detailed letters from faculty, professional colleagues and former students that acknowledged her diverse background and commitment to uplifting her students.

Since joining the University of North Texas in 2013, Bland has been known as a leader amongst her colleagues, working tirelessly to improve the university and establishing programs to better students’ learning experiences. With more than 25 years of professional media experience, she used her extensive background and knowledge to oversee the creation and launch of the university’s online master’s degree in digital communication analytics. She also initiated an undergraduate class in 2014 called “Covering Crisis, Trauma and Recovery” and started the Multimedia High School Workshop at UNT.

“Over the last 15 years, she has taught more than 1,000 students at UNT and Florida A&M University. Her former students are working across the nation in a variety of markets as reporters, editors, broadcast anchors, multimedia journalists, social media specialists, account executives and other media-related jobs,” said James E. Mueller, associate dean and professor at Mayborn School of Journalism. “Bland is an innovator in curricular design.”

To her students, Bland has been a committed mentor and professor to whom many credit their success. She is known for creating a trusting and welcoming environment that empowers students and helps them to pursue professional opportunities. Furthermore, she recognizes the best in her students and takes the time to assist them in applying for scholarships, fellowships and internships.

“She is tireless in her efforts to serve, build and protect our industry by ensuring that she is identifying opportunities for her students and colleagues,” said Cheryl Smith, publisher and editor for I Messenger Media and SPJ Board member. “Her students love working with her and she treats them with the utmost respect. She is always in pursuit of opportunities to help her students excel and she takes advantage of programs that could elevate students, educators and working journalists who may be seeking advanced degrees.”

Former University of North Texas student Priya Leal joined the Scripps Howard Foundation Emerging Journalists Program in the fall of 2021 and said Bland took her under her wing and helped her emerge from the internship with a variety of news skills that enabled her to reach her goals.

“The program was a way for me to dive into the world of journalism and it would not have been possible without the help of Dorothy Bland,” said Leal. “I truly do not think I would have been as successful if I did not have her help.”

Bland will be recognized at the Student Summit & Awards Program at MediaFest22 in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 28.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a membergive to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.

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