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Class year: 1981

School: College of the Pacific

Major: Communications

Student Activities: 
Pacifican student newspaper

Southeast Asia Bureau Chief 
Wall Street Journal

City: Djakarta, Indonesia

Career highlights:
Wall Street Journal
Bureau chief - Leading news coverage for the Wall Street Journal, and Dow Jones Newswires in Southeast Asia with bureaus in Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Vietnam. 

Associated Press
Led coverage of 2004 earthquake and tsunami in Indian Ocean, coverage of mainland Southeast Asia during turbulent late 1990s, including Asian Financial Crisis, collapse of Khmer Rouge and death of Pol Pot, unrest in Myanmar. Covered the changes in South Africa under President Nelson Mandela, including South Africa's victory in the Rugby World Cup portrayed in the film ''Invictus.'' Reported from Rwanda, Mozambique and other countries. Reported on French news and major European stories, including the post-Cold War restructuring of Europe. Covered the Rwandan genocide, North Africa including rise of Islamic parties, and the U.S. intervention in Haiti in 1994

Fairfield Daily Republic 
Fairfield, CA 


College of the Pacific
Wendell Phillips Center, Office 110
Dr. Rena Fraden
College of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95211

Patrick McDowell: Reporting world events from the front lines

Patrick McDowell
From Pacifican reporter to Southeast Asia bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, Patrick McDowell's journalism career has placed him at the center of major world events.

by Sheri Grimes
Pacific Review, spring 2015

Patrick McDowell '81 COP entered Pacific as an English major, bent on becoming the next Hemmingway.

While honing his writing skills with English professors Charles Clerc, Arlen Hansen and Robert Knighton, however, McDowell soon realized novel writing was not his passion after all. It was the opportunity to write for and then become the editor of The Pacifican that opened the door to what eventually became a life-on-the-edge career in international journalism.

Today McDowell is the Southeast Asia Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, where he handles leading news coverage for 10 countries from his home base in Jakarta, Indonesia. Over the course of his 34-year career, he has been at the frontlines of some of the most pivotal events of our time.

McDowell was working for a local paper in Fairfield, California, when he received a Rotary fellowship to go abroad to London. That experience helped him secure his first position with the Associated Press in Paris, where he covered the post-Cold War restructuring of Europe, the rise of Islamic parties in North Africa and the U.S intervention in Haiti.

Another turning point came when he was sent in to cover the genocide in Rwanda with nothing but a backpack and $1,000 cash. After that, he knew he would never be satisfied at the average daily news desk. He snapped up an opportunity to go to the South Africa bureau, where he witnessed the changes there under newly elected President Nelson Mandela after the fall of apartheid.

Since 1996, except for a two-year stint in Chicago, he has spent most of his time working in Southeast Asia, covering news from Iraq to the Philippines. He was shaken awake December 26, 2004, by the magnitude 9.1 earthquake centered in the Indian Ocean that triggered a massive tsunami. He coordinated award-winning coverage from his base as AP's chief Asia editor in Bangkok, Thailand, of one of the most devastating natural disasters in modern history, responsible for an estimated 230,000 deaths in 14 countries.

Most recently, he covered the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the string of recent plane accidents across Southeast Asia.

It's been a roller coaster ride through history from one of the best seats in the car.