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Patti Wolter

Patti Wolter

Helen Gurley Brown Magazine Professor

Patti Wolter joined the Medill faculty in the spring of 2002 and was named the Helen Gurley Brown Magazine Professor in 2018. Prior to joining the faculty, she spent 12 years in senior staff magazine jobs in New York, San Francisco and Chicago. She served as managing editor as well as acting editor at Mother Jones magazine and oversaw the award-winning health investigations team at Self magazine. She also worked as the managing editor and editor-in-chief of The Neighborhood Works, a non-profit magazine that covered community organizing and public affairs. Her freelance writing on women’s health and nutrition has appeared in a range of publications, and she continues to work as an editorial consultant for various print and online outlets.

Wolter’s teaching focuses on the magazine industry, factchecking, science writing and narrative, especially in relationship to feature writing and multimedia storytelling. She teaches courses in magazine editing, feature writing, health and science reporting, and narrative structure for undergraduate and graduate students. Wolter regularly partners with consumer media in her classes, and students in her courses have placed their reporting in a wide range of national media outlets. She has also co-taught Medill’s investigative journalism course, taught advanced science writing to master’s students, and worked with Medill's Knight Lab instructors integrating digital storytelling with narrative feature writing. In 2016, her master’s students’ project won first place for a multimedia interactive feature in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Student Contest. Also that year, Wolter overhauled Medill’s flagship introductory reporting and writing course and has led the required freshman course ever since.

In addition to her regular teaching, Wolter has designed and implemented fact-checking curricula across Medill classes and programs and regularly guest lectures on the topic. For Northwestern’s Graduate School, Wolter is part of the team that developed a writing-for-consumer-audiences class for STEM+ Ph.D. students and is the lead lecturer for the course, now in its fifth year. Wolter also gives lectures and runs workshops for scientists on how to communicate with media and to develop skills for sharing their findings to lay audiences.

In May 2019, Wolter spearheaded a team of students to create the first edition of California Sunday’s Pop-Up Zine show, bringing the acclaimed national live journalism program to its first-ever college campus.

She is a regular judge for the National Magazine Awards and is a member of the Knight Foundation’s Science Journalism Project. She also leads Medill’s prestigious John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism annual contest. She has received numerous teaching awards from Northwestern’s Associated Student Government and was Medill’s Undergraduate Professor of the Year in 2017. 

Education

Wolter earned bachelor's and master's degrees at Medill; her master's degree was earned with highest distinction.

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