Veteran Journalist and Founder of NewsLab Named Professor of Ethics in Journalism

Deborah Potter, visiting distinguished professor of ethics in journalism.
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Deborah Potter, visiting distinguished professor of ethics in journalism.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Veteran journalist Deborah Potter, a former CNN and CBS correspondent and the founder of NewsLab, has been selected as the 2014 visiting distinguished professor of ethics in journalism for the Walter J. Lemke Department of Journalism at the University of Arkansas. Potter is the second journalist chosen to fill this position in the department’s Center for Ethics in Journalism and will make guest presentations to university classes, deliver public lectures and direct seminars for professional journalists in Northwest Arkansas.

Potter covered the White House, State Department, Capitol Hill and national environmental issues for CBS News from 1978 to 1991, including contributions to the program 48 Hours and anchoring Nightwatch. She then spent three years at CNN, covering political and environmental issues as well as anchoring news programs.

In 1998 Potter founded NewsLab, a Washington-based nonprofit that serves as a resource and training center for television and radio newsrooms. NewsLab has provided training to thousands of working journalists and journalism educators; encouraged innovation by developing and sharing new story forms; and generated practical research for television newsrooms. Potter continues to serve as NewsLab’s executive director.

“Deborah Potter is one of the most highly regarded journalists in the country for her integrity and her service to the profession,” said Patsy G. Watkins, associate professor of journalism, who was instrumental in developing the Center for Ethics in Journalism. “Her direction of NewsLab has developed it as a bookmarked site for professionals, teachers and students for news, information, jobs, and tips. We are extremely fortunate to have her work with us this fall at the Journalism Department’s Center for Ethics in Journalism.”

For the last four years Potter has reported and written the chapter on local television news in the annual State of the News Media report by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. She also wrote the “Broadcast Views” column for the American Journalism Review. For the last decade she has been a contributing correspondent on the PBS program Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, for which she reports and serves as a substitute anchor.

Among her other publications, Potter is co-author, with Debora Halpern Wenger, of the textbook Advancing the Story: Journalism in a Multimedia World (3rd ed., CQ Press, 2014).

“I’m delighted that Deborah Potter will be joining us this semester,” said Larry Foley, chair of the Lemke Department. “She is a highly regarded journalist with experience at the very top of her profession. Her background, knowledge and integrity will be invaluable to our Ethics Center and to the audiences we serve. I’ve heard Deborah speak at professional meetings and she is fantastic. I’ve been using her NewsLab material for years in the classroom, and to have her ‘on the ground’ to share with students is really going to be something special.”

Potter earned her bachelor’s degree in radio, television, and motion pictures and psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in journalism and public affairs from American University of Washington, D.C.


Ben Pollock, interim assistant director
Center for Ethics in Journalism

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations


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