Please note: The classes listed here represent recent offerings at the Journalism School. These include M.S., M.S. in Data Journalism and M.A. courses. Choices vary each semester depending on faculty availability and other considerations. Classes described now may change or be dropped to make room for new additions. We cannot promise that students will gain a seat in any specific class.

Documentary Specialization Seminar

This seminar has two primary objectives: to acquaint you with the aesthetics, ethics and traditions of documentaries, and to prepare you to make your own short, nonfiction film. To accomplish this, we will be studying, watching and dissecting lots of docs. And you will undertake a series of exercises and workshops on shooting, organizing, editing, budgeting, archive use and outreach.

Open only to students in the M.S. Documentary Program.


Multimedia Storytelling: Data, Design and Animation

This intensive production course covers the fundamentals of using data, design and animation to tell deeply-reported, compelling stories. Students will learn how to use industry-standard multimedia production tools, as well as advanced animation storytelling techniques. Students will be taught how to source data, storyboard, design, produce, and animate journalistic stories. Several short- and long-form projects will guide students through the process of conceptualizing, visualizing and producing animated stories.

Multimedia Storytelling: Data, Design and Animation combines data sourcing, motion design and video production exploring the powerful potential of digital visualization methods for journalism. Students will be taught how to research, report, source data, storyboard, design, produce, edit and animate in-depth journalistic video content to acquire advanced industry-standard storytelling techniques.

Short Doc Storytelling

This workshop is for students with shooting and editing experience who want to hone their storytelling skills, experiment with new styles and explore the expanding landscape of video. You will produce three short documentaries (3-10 minutes long) over the course of the semester culminating in a final project and public screening.

This year, we will be including an extra, two-day After Effects training session to introduce you to the sophisticated graphics animation that is becoming a staple in the video world.

Our emphasis is on substantive reporting and compelling storytelling of all kinds. We will encourage and support first-person, on-camera, non-narration or text-based approaches. The goal is to produce videos suitable for online, broadcast, cable or social media platforms (and, of course, viewing at the Career Fair.)

In class, we will focus on story structure, interview techniques, lighting, editing, graphics and pitching your stories and yourself to media outlets. Guest workshops will be conducted by professionals from Vox, Quartz and 60 Minutes, as well as master classes from award-winning documentarians like Lynn Novick (Vietnam.)

Students in previous classes have produced assignments that have been posted on Slate, Channel Thirteen’s METRO FOCUS, Frontline, the Daily Beast, and in the J School’s 100th anniversary celebrations.

Storytelling About The Environment

This course will focus on documentary storytelling about one of the most exciting and wide-ranging areas of coverage: science and the environment. Students in this course will learn how to report on and think critically about the many facets of this complex beat, which includes disciplines from ecology to public health. Through extensive reading as well as visits with science journalists and researchers studying issues such as climate change, students will learn to how to identify and write compelling stories about science. The stories they write and the issues they explore will lead to the production of short documentary films.

Students will learn advanced principles of field production, as well as sophisticated post-production techniques.  The course will focus on shooting techniques, proper audio recording, and narrative storytelling skills. Although there will be theoretical discussions and critiques of professional work, a great deal of class time will be spent in the field in order to strengthen each student's production capabilities. The course will be rigorous and will meet for two full days a week.

The course will work closely with Field of Vision, the documentary unit founded by Laura Poitras. The class will take several trips to the Field of Vision offices to meet and learn from professional filmmakers.

Video 2

If you already have a solid foundation in video, you may request admission to this module, which will give you the chance to develop a more sophisticated understanding of, and approach to, the medium. We’ll delve into the elements necessary for producing compelling stories; teach you how to light and shoot sequences and well-framed interviews; discuss the practical ethical and legal considerations of working in video; and help you develop rapport with subjects. You may request this module during balloting, but when you get to campus, you’ll be required to demonstrate the ability to shoot video interviews and action scenes; identify and use sound bites; and edit a short story using pictures and sound. Those not qualified will be placed in Video 1. For more information, contact Prof. Betsy West.