Anelia Dimitrova

she, her, hers

Associate Professor, Digital Media-Journalism

Co-Advisor, Northern Iowan

Anelia Dimitrova

Lang Hall 317


Anelia Dimitrova

she, her, hers

Associate Professor, Digital Media-Journalism

Co-Advisor, Northern Iowan

“I proudly call myself a journalism educator and a practitioner of a noble craft.

Here’s the thing about journalism: You can read all about it. You can get angry about it. You can analyze it, categorize it, summarize it.

But not until you hear from an irate councilman fuming about a story you wrote on his dismal attendance record, and later in the week get a honk on the street from a constituent happy you held their rep’s feet to the fire that it dawns on you that even the most mundane story you report on impacts the lives of the people who depend on journalism’s vigilance to shine a light on the sores of society.

That’s what I do in my professional work and that’s the overarching lesson I teach in my classes.

My passion for journalism, its purpose, its practice and its imperfections has only grown over the years I have practiced it.

The reason?

I have seen firsthand its transformative impact on the issues it highlights, on the people it covers, and ultimately, on the lives of those of us who take it on as a mission. To stay relevant in the classroom, much like a local farmer, I bring the fresh yield of produce to share with my students. There is no better time to be a journalist-in-the-making today, and no better time to be a journalism educator as the news industry, and society’s relationship to it, is undergoing profound changes.

Democracy needs well-trained, dedicated journalists, professionals with imagination and scope, and I have pinned my hopes on my students. That’s what motivates me to invest my experience in them.

I hold a Ph. D. in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

In my journalistic practice, I test the theories I teach and share the lessons with my students.

As the regional executive editor and digital development director for a cluster of community newspapers in Northeast Iowa, collectively called Northeast Iowa Publications, and specifically for the Waverly paper, in the past 17 years, I have covered the bread-and-butter stories every community journalist enjoys.

In Iowa, this means reporting on caucuses, presidential candidates like Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, who, among many others, stumped in Waverly during their respective campaigns to win over Iowa voters.

Like many local journalists, I have covered local politics, natural disasters like the Parkersburg tornado, council meetings, trials, human interest stories, the historic flood of 2008, missing people, 4-H achievements, and yes, even a run-away goat.

Being the editor of a paper that started in 1856--I keep the original edition in the office for perspective--and carrying out the legacy of generations of community journalists before me gives meaning to my daily challenges and uplifts me when the walls come down on me in turbulent times.

That’s what you do as a community journalist and editor in Iowa--you sample the mundane and the momentous, mish-mashed into one unpredictable, unrepeatable, and unforgettable slice of life.

I am also passionate about a journalism initiative-in-the-making called the Transformative Journalism Academy, which has so far focused on empowering cub reporters, some as young as middle school, to work in the newsroom and produce publishable work.

Along the way, I have accumulated some lesson-worthy experiences, and earned multiple storytelling awards, ranging from the 2010 Bill Monroe Award for Innovation in Journalism, as well as awards for wordsmithing, video storytelling and community service from the Iowa Newspaper Association.

The professional recognitions my team and I have earned over the years slowly fill the wall in the newsroom, but the only award that sits in my office is not issued by a professional organization.

It is a colorfully hand-painted restored chair a retired school administrator once brought to my doorstep unexpectedly, as an appreciation for my journalistic work.

I treasure it deeply as a reminder of the fact that the idea of journalism, in its purest form, ultimately boils down to how it touches the heart.

That’s why I believe journalism is so vital to our world.

That’s why I do it.

That’s why I teach it to my UNI students in an effort to empower.

That's why I live it.”


Ph.D., University of Missouri

Teaching Interests: 

Anelia teaches classes in Advanced Reporting, Digital Journalism, Editing & Design and Journalism, and Law & Ethics.