The Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism, inaugurated in 2015, aims to apply the century-old “Missouri Method” approach to the hands-on teaching of journalism to the field of documentaries. Through coursework that focuses equally on the theory of documentaries and the practical application of the concrete skills of reporting and producing documentary work, the center prepares graduate and undergraduate students for careers as independent documentary filmmakers, as well as for work in the production and editorial teams who produce the finest in long-form journalism and programming. 

A faculty team of documentary and journalism veterans leads a small, hand-picked group of students through the steps necessary to conceive, execute and distribute the most contemporary documentary content made today.

Students work closely with the instructors, getting one-on-one attention for their documentary projects every step of the way. The expectation is always that the work they do will be at a professional level ready for public consumption, with the “publishing” of that work taking place online, via broadcast or through festivals around the country and the world. The center is equipped with the latest camera, audio, lighting and editing equipment, putting professional tools in the hands of students from day one. A new laboratory space serves as a teaching and learning hub, allowing students to work closely with one another to serve different roles on each other’s projects. The program employs a blend of individual responsibility and healthy collaboration to prepare students both to work independently and as a team. The culmination of the program is a one-of-a-kind, yearlong documentary project that will be the final accomplishment for both graduate and undergraduate students. This extended time period allows students to dig deeply into their topics, makes time to get it right and leaves each student with his or her own documentary to take to the public. The Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism is writing the book on how student learn documentary skills in the 21st Century, paving the way for future students to carry on this brand new tradition of excellence for the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Missouri Method

The “Missouri Method” is what sets the Missouri School of Journalism apart as a world leader in media education. At Missouri, professional and real-world experience is an integral part of the curriculum. Students spend four years building a robust portfolio while learning by doing. Using professional equipment and software to film and produce their own documentary projects, students waste no time in gaining real-world experience. Not only do our students have the advantage of working in a real-world media environment, they’ll have world-class faculty to advise and mentor them through the process.