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About Rick Dunham

These are articles linked to on the landing page devoted to GBJ co-director Rick Dunham. We hope you enjoy them.

Rick Dunham


Rick Dunham is co-director of the Global Business Journalism program at Tsinghua University and a visiting professor in the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication. As a journalist, he is a frequent analyst on topics of global business, politics and journalism, offering commentary on international television networks and multimedia news platforms. As a journalism educator, he has trained professional journalists, journalism students and journalism professors in locations including the United States, China, Finland, the Netherlands, Lebanon and the Philippines.

Before arriving in China in 2013, Professor Dunham was a veteran Washington journalist and former president of the National Press Club. He covered the White House for Business Week magazine and theHouston Chronicle

Professor Dunham also is a prolific author. He is the author of the textbook, “Multimedia Reporting” (Springer, 2020) and co-editor of Springer’s Tsinghua Global Business Journalism book series. He wrote “The Global Business Journalism Stylebook” (2023) and is co-editor of upcoming “The Routledge Companion to Business Journalism” (Routledge, 2024). 

From 1992 to July 2007, Mr. Dunham was a Washingtoncorrespondent for Business Week, covering issues as diverse as the federal budget, international trade and the Clinton and Bush White Houses. He also was Washington Outlook editor and a weekly columnist for From 2007 to 2013 he was Washington bureau chief of the Houston Chronicle, where he created the popular blog “Texas on the Potomac.” He also served as Hearst NewspapersWashington bureau chief from 2009 to 2012.

Mr. Dunham earlier spent seven years in the Washington bureau of the Dallas Times Herald, covering Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court. He also worked on the city desk reporter in Dallas and the state capital bureau in Austin. His journalism prizes include awards for breaking news, beat reporting, regional reporting, feature writing and public service.

During three decades in Washington, he appeared on C-SPAN,CNN, ABC, CNBC, MSNBC, the PBS News Hour and SiriusXMSatellite Radio. He also has offered news analysis for outlets including the BBC, National Public Radio, ABC Radio, Fox News Channel. From 2005 to 2009, he wrote a “Letter from America” column for the Finnish newspaper Aamulehti explaining U.S. politics and culture to an international audience.

Over the past decade, Mr. Dunham has offered regular news analysis for CCTV’s China Global Television Network and CGTN Radio, along with international news outlets from countries including the United States, Russia, the Philippines, Denmark, Estonia and Finland..

Mr. Dunham is on the cutting edge of journalism education and training in both Asia and America, having served as president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute from 2006 to 2013. He has conducted global webinars, taught classes and hosted panel discussionson journalism skills, digital content, social media and journalism ethics. In China, he has participated in international journalism conferences and has conducted more than 50 lectures and workshops for journalism students and professionals across the world’s largest country. He also created the USA Summer Journalism Training Program, an intensive two-week training program for international students.

From 1999 to 2005, Mr. Dunham was a mentor with the UNITY Mentor Program for young journalists of color, where he worked one-on-one with young journalists and taught workshops on journalism skills. He has lectured to classes at U.S. institutions including Texas A&M University, the University of Alabama, the University of Oklahoma, Purdue University, American University, Boston University, Towson State University, Carleton College, Sam Houston State University, Flagler College, and the Organization of American States.

Mr. Dunham also has written for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He has contributed to other books including "The Founding City" (Chilton Books, 1976), "The Handbook of Campaign Spending" (Congressional Quarterly Press, 1992) and “The Almanac of the Unelected” (Bernan Press, 2006). He wrote a new foreword to the 60th anniversary edition of his grandfather Barrows Dunham’s classic philosophy book, “Man Against Myth” (National Press Trust of India, 2007). He wrote the foreword for “Alternative Truths: Post-Election America” (B Cubed Press, 2017).

From 1992 to 1999, Mr. Dunham served on the Executive Committee of Periodical Correspondents, which oversees the press galleries on Capitol Hill for more than 2,000 news magazine and newsletter correspondents. As Executive Committee chairman from 1995 to 1997, he helped to coordinate press logistics for the national conventions and presidential inauguration.

A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Dunham holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in history from the University of Pennsylvania. He is married to Pam Tobey, a longtime graphics and data specialist at the Washington Post who worked as visuals director at Beijing Review from 2015 to 2024.

From reporter to educator: Is journalism dying?


Global Business Journalism reporter


Some Chinese social media influencers have declared that “journalism is dying” and caution students against selecting it as a college major.


Tsinghua University professor Rick Dunham, a seasoned journalist with 35 years of reporting experience, says he understands this perspective, amid the myriad challenges facing the profession. But the former Washington bureau chief remains resolutely optimistic that journalists will find an indispensable role in the information ecosystem of the future.


“There is always a market for young people who can tell stories,” the former Washington bureau chief said firmly. “There is always a place for truth-tellers and smart analysts.”


Like the 1960s and 1970s, Dunham sees a generational shift in the journalism world today, with old-school journalists giving way to younger reporters who are more in tune with the news consumption habits of the rapidly changing audience.


“Generations are changing rapidly now,” the 67-year-old American said. “When I was young, it was a great era for news, but it was a time of massive social and economic upheaval. We are seeing many similar trends today.”


Dunham pinpointed two events that were pivotal in shaping his decision to pursue journalism. The first was the domestic violence in America in 1968, a year marked by several the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, along with race riots in dozens of U.S. cities, police brutality against anti-war protesters at the Democratic presidential convention in Chicago, and demonstrations around the country clamoring for social change, from women’s rights to civil rights to gay rights. The second turning point came in 1973 with the Watergate scandal. Witnessing how when two young journalists at The Washington Post played a critical role in uncovering truths that ultimately led to a president's resignation profoundly affected Dunham, cementing his resolve to embark on a reporter's path. These experiences underscored for him the significant impact journalism can have on society and solidified his commitment to the profession.


“I wanted to change the world for the better,” the native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said. “In concrete terms, that meant to help people understand the world better. I thought I had the skill to explain the world to people.”


After winning a coveted campus correspondent job for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dunham wrote his first professional news article in 1974. It featured a recent Ph.D. recipient who was working as a ditch-digger for a road construction crew and struggling to feed his family. The trend story discussed the difficulty that many U.S. college graduates faced in a job market saturated with highly educated applicants but relatively few available jobs.


“It's similar to what is happening in China,” Dunham said, noting that his In-Depth News Writing students last year completed a project on the employment challenges being encountered by the record high number of Chinese university graduates in 2023’s tight job market.


Through the work of journalists, the cycles of history are revisited and brought to life.


Dunham watched the cycles of history up close as a White House correspondent for 17 years. He conducted five Oval Office interviews with American presidents, covered summits with Soviet leaders at the height of the Cold War, and was there for the signing of Middle East peace treaties and Nelson Mandela’s historic speech to the U.S. Congress. As the National Press Club, where he served as president in 2005, he met world leaders including Britain’s Tony Blair, India’s Manmohan Singh, Germany’s Gerhard Schröder, and Australia’s John Howard. He was the Washington bureau chief of the Houston Chronicle, then the largest newspaper in the American South, from 2007 until he came to China in 2013.


“I had a fulfilling and fruitful career,” he said.


In 1983, Dunham met his wife, graphic artist Pam Tobey, with both of them carving out careers in the journalism field. Their partnership evolved into one marked by deep camaraderie and mutual respect. Tobey, who worked for The Washington Post for 30 years, fondly recalled their journey together: “Our relationship is incredibly close.”


Dunham said he came to China 11 years ago because of the opportunity to help train the next generation of global journalists in a prestigious cross-cultural program at one of the world’s best universities.


“I fully supported his decision,” Tobey said. “He came back with a plan, and after discussing it, we reached a consensus.”


The Global Business Journalism program affords its students invaluable opportunities to gain practical journalism experience.


“This program equips you with critical thinking and writing skills,” he said. “Those vital ‘soft’ skills will help you in your career whether you go into journalism or into another profession.”


Dunham’s philosophy has had a profound affect on many of his students.


“In Rick's course, you'll come to appreciate the unique value of a journalism education,” said Zhang Xi, a journalism master’s student from China. “It's not merely about acquiring skills; it extends to cultivating a distinctive mindset.”


Dunham’s students say he provides detailed instruction to help them improve as journalists, from shooting videos to editing and script writing.


“He has always advocated for adapting to the swift currents of change that characterize our era, especially in the field of digital communication,” said Yang Ning, one of Dunham’s students from China. “His teaching methods extend beyond traditional lectures, emphasizing practical, hands-on experience with multimedia tools.”


And while opinions vary widely on whether journalism is truly dying in today’s world, Dunham remains an optimistic, forward-thinking and stylish figure in the media landscape. Moreover, says the dean of Tsinghua’s School of Journalism and Communication, he recognizes the critical role of journalism in society.


“Rick is a very responsible tutor,” said Dean Zhou Qing’an. “You can always improve your skills under his guidance. And you will come to understand the necessity of studying journalism, as well as the importance of news.”

Rick Dunham GBJ commencement 2023.jpg
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