Growing up poor on a former United States Army post along the western edge of Montana’s Miles City in the 1950‘s helped turn Paula Woodward into one of the toughest, most resilient Investigative Reporters of her day. She has fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves.
The middle child of two sisters, she waited until their parents went into town to climb the forbidden water tower, race up the trees and the rickety rooftops of the decaying officers’ quarters in Fort Keogh. The three sisters helped breed the pigs and cattle and broke horses for cowboys. Often alone on 500,000 acres while herding cattle on horseback, Woodward quickly learned to rely on herself and her horse, whether it was Keokuk or Jacobi. She got a taste for storytelling by talking to her steady companion, her part-Collie, part-German Shepherd dog, Blaze.
She graduated from Montana State University-Bozeman with a Bachelor’s degree in English. Woodward taught for a while, then started her reporting career with KDEN All-News radio before joining the number one news station in Denver, KUSA TV in 1977.
Woodward continually scooped her colleagues and competing reporters at other stations with exclusive high-profile interviews, hidden camera stings and powerful storytelling.
She caught city workers slacking off, uncovered public corruption and exposed the secrets of a recruiting scandal at the University of Colorado in Boulder. After many of her stories, officials changed policies, police jailed suspects, and state legislators created new laws.
The Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post editorialized her exploits in cartoons while some fans put bumper stickers on their cars reading, “I brake for Paula Woodward.”
Other reporters resigned themselves to watching her exclusive jailhouse interviews with suspects like Willie Clark accused of murdering a Denver Broncos Player, and officials confessing to crimes she’d caught them committing on camera. Her sources trusted her and were so loyal throughout Denver, she’d often be the only reporter on the scene of breaking news, as other journalists were waiting at the wrong place, miles from the action. Her stories went national on the major broadcast networks. Woodward also wrote for The Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post as part of a business partnership with KUSA-TV.
Woodward’s reputation grew with the murder of JonBenét Ramsey in 1996. Woodward refused to report spoon-fed facts at press conferences unless she’d double-sourced them. She landed exclusive interviews with members of the Ramsey family because she fairly reported their side of the story, after prosecutors and law enforcement told theirs.
Along the way, her peers honored Woodward with some 50 investigative reporting accolades, including multiple Emmy, Edward R. Murrow and Society of Professional Journalism awards.
After 32 years as a TV sleuth, Woodward resigned from local television news to uncover previously unreported back-room deals in the Ramsey case. You can reach Woodward at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A look back at Woodward’s investigations. Also watch “I wanted to tell stories that made a difference,” by Paula Woodward.