Dotson was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended the University of Kansas, where he received a degree in journalism and political science in 1968. Dotson was also an active member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity at KU. In 1969, he obtained a Master of Science degree in television and film from Syracuse University.
Dotson's first job in broadcasting was as Director of Special Projects at WKY-TV in Oklahoma City between 1969 and 1975. In 1975 he moved to NBC News, working with Cleveland-based WKYC-TV, before leaving after two years to open a new NBC News bureau in Dallas. He moved to NBC News' Atlanta bureau in 1979.
His book American Story: A Lifetime Search for Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things (2013), which highlights extraordinary ordinary Americans, reaches a wide audience soon after publication.
He has received more than 100 awards for his work in broadcast journalism, including eight National Emmys. In 2012 the Radio Television Digital News Association chose Dotson to receive the Edward R. Murrow Award for Writing a record sixth time and the Society of Professional Journalists cited Dotson's columns for TODAY.COM as the "best writing in new media." His work has also won top journalism awards from the National Press Photographers, Dupont-Columbia and Robert F. Kennedy Foundation.
- Murray, Michael D. (1999). Encyclopedia of television news. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-57356-108-2.
- NPAA: NewsVideo Workshop: Bob Dotson
- Five questions with Bob Dotson - The Day - Google News Archive