E. Tammy Kim
E. Tammy Kim, T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor, Fall, 2020
E. Tammy Kim is a freelance magazine reporter, a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times, and a co-host of the Time to Say Goodbye podcast, based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in outlets including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Columbia Journalism Review, and The Nation. She previously worked on the editorial staff of The New Yorker and as a national features writer at Al Jazeera America.
Before becoming a journalist, Tammy was a legal-services attorney and adjunct professor. As the Pollner professor for the fall of 2020, she helped advise the Kaimin and taught a seminar on labor reporting titled "The American Worker."
It’s now been more than two decades since I left my native Pacific Northwest for the East Coast, but still the mountains and people lure me back. When I applied for the Pollner professorship, having seen Hank Stuever advertise the job on Twitter, I did so on a whim and with my fingers crossed, wishing to go home. Lucky, lucky me.
I had taught as an adjunct in the past, but never in a journalism program. Every day, in the classroom and the Kaimin office, the UM students astonished me. The articles they read, the music they listened to, the recipes they tried; their desire to be good. They made cold calls and arranged socially-distanced interviews. They did legal research and turned ethical questions over and over in their heads. They wanted to know the far beyond, but felt proud of where they were from. Despite the limits of pandemic life (talking through masks, a truncated semester, no beautiful seminar room, no late-night drinks after putting the Kaimin to bed), they gave me four months of joy.
Is there any J School like the one I found in Missoula? The staff and faculty seemed to know the students as full, striving, struggling human beings. Cameron, Kathleen, and Denise made the department feel normal during a most abnormal time; Dennis offered counsel and stories from the field over wine. The department gatherings outside Don Anderson Hall felt like family picnics, with the right amount of joking and bickering. There was no naivete about the state of the industry, and yet the community exuded solidarity and care.
Some months have passed since I left UM, and it’s easy to reflect on the scenic, apparent things: nightly walks up Mt. Sentinel, the Beverly house, the drive around Flathead Lake. How incredible it was to hike in Glacier National Park and make a labor pilgrimage to Butte. But what I really miss is the buzz of the Kaimin office on Monday afternoons and the way my students critiqued and reverse-reported our readings in “The American Worker.”
I’m confident in who they are and impatient to see what they do.