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KOMU's Stacey Woelfel will lead MU documentary journalism program

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 | 7:18 p.m. CST; updated 7:55 p.m. CST, Tuesday, February 25, 2014

COLUMBIA — Longtime KOMU/NBC News Director Stacey Woelfel will be the first director of the Jonathan Murray Documentary Journalism Center.

"I was interested in the documentary program, and once (School of Journalism Dean) Dean Mills asked me to run it, I couldn't pass that up," Woelfel said.

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This month, the Missouri School of Journalism received a $6.7 million gift to create the degree program in documentary journalism, educating students in the history, business and production of film and other nonfiction multimedia. Murray is a writer, producer and pioneer of reality television and a graduate of the Journalism School.

The program is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2015. Woelfel, an associate professor who has led KOMU for almost 28 years, said that as soon as a new news director is hired, he will train that person while preparing to start the program.

KOMU is part of the hands-on teaching in the Journalism School. Woelfel said it will be hard to leave the broadcast students there because of his love of teaching them and watching their growth over time.

He is excited to start the documentary journalism program and witness similar growth, though.

"I think I'm most excited for getting to build the curriculum and working with my other colleagues at the school building it," Woelfel said. "When I came to KOMU, it had already been on the air for 33 years. It was a world-class teaching opportunity through this whole time, and that's a goal for the documentary program — being a world-class teaching program."

Experience in the field will be as fundamental to the documentary journalism program as it is with KOMU. Woelfel said he is eager to create a new set of hands-on opportunities for students.

Woelfel acknowledged there will be challenges in the program's inaugural semesters. The biggest obstacle will be condensing the curriculum into a two-year undergraduate program, he said. A lot of ideas are circulating, he said, so the faculty will have to decide what will be of greatest value to the students.

A search committee is looking for and interviewing candidates for two other positions in the program, Woelfel said.

Woelfel is past national chairman of the Radio Television Digital News Association. He serves on the national board of directors of the Carole Kneeland Project for Responsible Journalism, the board of governors of the Mid-America chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the board of directors for the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, according to the Journalism School website.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.


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