Marcia Rock – A message from the Director of News & Documentary
I started shooting and editing video in 1972 and am glad the technology now allows me to teach News and Documentary students to shoot and edit their documentaries. I think there is no better way to understand the medium than to embrace a project and do it all yourself. This approach immerses you in the story and in the elements of storytelling from visual conception, interaction with your subjects, audio and video challenges and then the creative moments in the editing room, when the entire project comes alive.
I have worked as an independent filmmaker my entire career, sometimes working with crews and editors and sometimes working completely on my own. I think my first local Emmy was a reward for surviving the challenges of shooting in China in 1984. My second local Emmy was for the classic documentary, McSorley’s New York, the history of the New York Irish through the story of the bar that is across the street from our NYU Carter Journalism Institute. My most recent Emmy (2014) was for SERVICE: When Women Come Marching Home, about women veterans’ transition from active duty to civilian life. I just completed, Warriors Return, about Navajo veterans that will air in November 2014. I started thinking about the grass roots impact of documentaries with SERVICE and am continuing to learn about this aspect of distribution with Warriors Return. It is an increasingly important aspect of documentary production and will be integrated into the curriculum this year.
My work covers international dilemmas, women’s issues as well as personal perspectives. Salt Harvesters of Ghana (2007) captures the dignity of women working in a grueling landscape. Writers’ Rooms: The Making of a Mural (2008) follows painter Elena Climent’s research of six American writers’ workspaces. My documentary on the changing role of women in Northern Ireland, Daughters of the Troubles: Belfast Stories (1997) won many awards including the AWRT Grand Documentary Award. In 2000, I decided to explore the personal documentary form and produced, Dancing with My Father (2003), a film that ponders how adult love is shaped by what a child learns at home and Surrender Tango (2006) that compares the rules and roles of tango with contemporary relationships.
I am very proud to have worked with Marlene Sanders, as co-author of, Waiting for Prime Time: The Women of Television News. Marlene is a broadcast journalism pioneer who paved the way for women to report, anchor and be executives in this business. Please visit my website and the sites of my documentaries to learn more.
The documentaries by independent filmmakers are some of the most creative and powerful programs produced today. If you look at the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards, most of the nominations are for work by independent filmmakers. That is why News and Documentary features these filmmakers in our master classes and screens their work in class. We use the best models of current and past documentaries to stimulate and inspire you in terms of story and technique. The curriculum begins with short form storytelling and grows with you to shoot a thirty-minute documentary over the summer and edit it in the third semester.
We also prepare you to work in any aspect of journalism today. You work with Cora Daniels perfecting your writing and multi-media skills; you work with Jason Samuels to understand the demands of network news and magazine length pieces. In his class, you also collect credits for your resume, producing stories for local news media. Some of you will work with Jason Maloney in his new class on international reporting and practice. We pride our selves in having an international class so you can learn about the world from your colleagues. We are also small. Classes average 15 students and classmates become friends for life.
We’ve added two craft classes in cinematography and editing that partner with our main reporting classes to seamlessly enhance your skills. Kirsten Johnson teaches Visual Thinking and works professionally with the best independent filmmakers. Her camera instincts are remarkable and her ability to articulate them profound. David Spungen comes from the network editing world of 48 Hours. He has honed his skills over years of storytelling and specializes in individual coaching.
Check out our Master Class page for the filmmakers who have taught here and the alumni page for updates on the awards and jobs of past students. Please come and visit and sit in on a class. Choosing a graduate program is a serious decision and investment. We want you to know it is a good fit.
Jason Samuels – Professor for TV Reporting II and Advanced Multimedia Reporting
In 1958 the great journalist Edward R. Murrow delivered a speech on the state of news media. Speaking about television news he said: ”This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.”
I have spent 20 years working as a news producer, senior producer and executive producer, attempting to make sure these “lights in a box” do more than simply entertain – but engage and inform.
At NBC News I worked on primetime documentary projects that explored topics such as residential segregation, welfare reform, and homeless veterans. In 2004, I produced A Pattern of Suspicion, a documentary about racial profiling that won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, an RTNDA-Edward R. Murrow Award, and an Investigative Reporter and Editor Award.
I spent three years as a documentary producer at CNN where I developed and produced the documentaries: Obama Revealed,Silicon Valley: The New Promise Land and Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door. “Obama Revealed“ was a 90-minute portrait of the Obama presidency that aired shortly before the 2012 election. This project included an exclusive interview with President Obama and many senior members of his inner circle, including Hillary Clinton. “The New Promise Land” was a provocative look at the startling lack of diversity in Silicon Valley, and “Unwelcome” explored Islamophobia through the experience of a small Muslim community in middle Tennessee. (Both “The New Promise Land” and “Unwelcomed” featured CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien. )
In addition to NBC and CNN, I worked as a senior producer at ESPN, where I produced stories for the innovative, Emmy Award-winning sports newsmagazine E:60. I also led an award-winning documentary series at BET called “Heart of the City” that featured hour-long documentaries on failing public schools in Detroit, childhood obesity in the South, and post Katrina recovery in New Orleans.
I also have spent some time in the digital realm. At ABC News digital, I led production of the World News Webcast with Charles Gibson, the first, live, daily network newscast produced exclusively for the web. Our ‘digital first’ program featured a diversity of stories and storytelling approaches. (While at ABC News I also enjoyed a brief tour-of-duty as the executive producer of the ABC World News Saturday and ABC World News Sunday evening news broadcasts.)
Currently I produce stories for the highly acclaimed, Peabody award-winning HBO newsmagazine Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
If anything, I would hope I bring to the classroom a passion for important underreported stories, a diversity of real-world production experience, and a deep appreciation of the challenge of producing compelling video journalism, in all its forms.
I teach TV II, the second semester course in the News and Documentary program. In TVII students are pushed to produce compelling, high quality video journalism of various lengths – while working solo and in teams. The emphasis is on solidifying production and storytelling skills. Inspiration comes from new and old media. We work hard together, push and support each other – and have fun. Join us.
Cora Daniels – Professor for Written Reporting
I came to News Doc with a background in words: magazines and books. To some that may seem like an odd fit for the program but for News Doc it makes perfect sense because the program is constantly looking at the world differently, with creativity, and innovation. Because of that my favorite class to teach at NYU is my WRR News Doc class. There is an energy and excitement in News Doc that is unmatched. Every year when I meet my new class I feel that when it comes to telling stories anything is possible
I’ve been a staff writer at Fortune magazine for almost a decade. I currently am a contributing writer at Fast Company and at Essence, where I writes for both magazines regularly. My work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, USA Today, Men’s Fitness, Heart & Soul, and Savoy among others. I am the author of Impolite Conversations (Simon & Schuster, 2014), Black Power Inc. (John Wiley and Sons, 2004) and GHETTONATION (Doubleday, 2007). I have commented on diversity and business issues on ABC News, CNN, CNBC, BET, NPR, Fox News, and the Charlie Rose Show. I began her career as a newspaper journalist and has also been an editor at Working Mother magazine. I have a BA from Yale University and an MS from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. I am a native New Yorker and live in Brooklyn with my husband and two young children.
In my class, WRR I: NEWS & DOCUMENTARY, you learn to become a journalist. The semester will give you a solid foundation in reporting, develop your news judgment, and help you recognize a story and what medium to tell that story. Our class will simulate a newsroom and New York City will be your reporting lab. You will cover a beat and be sent into the city hunting for stories from day one and write weekly news stories for the News Doc multi-media news site. By the end of the semester you will be comfortable writing for the web and developed the reporting skills that you will be expected to use in every News & Doc class and throughout your career.
Jane Stone – Professor for Press Ethics
I have worked over the past 17 years investigating everything from corporate negligence at Fortune 500 companies to bogus retirement homes to the trafficking in endangered species by the country’s prestigious zoos.
I have investigated hazardous abortion clinics, explored Pat Robertson’s religious and political philosophy, and profiled a dangerously overcrowded public hospital. My investigations have changed laws, shut down shoddy companies and increased workplace safety standards. They have also helped shed light on important public policy issues.
I won three national Emmys including one for Outstanding Investigative Journalism, as well as three regional Emmys, an Ohio State Award, a DuPont-Columbia Award, a Peabody, and the Joan Shorenstein Barone Award for Excellence in National Affairs Reporting.
I was also a producer for 60 Minutes, West 57th, PBS Frontline, Dateline NBC and the CNN Special Assignment Unit. I helped start Court-TV, and in the last few years has developed a strong interest in legal journalism. Recently, I was awarded the American Bar Association Gavel Award for educating the public about important legal issues. I still continue to produce stories for Dateline NBC.
Jason Maloney – Professor for Global Beat
I am a news and documentary producer, videographer and editor and a passionate evangelist for international news coverage. I’ve reported from 30 countries for ABC, CBC, CBS, CNN, Discovery, HDNet, Huffington Post, PBS, The New York Times and Time.com.
My work has been honored with the biggest awards in the business including the Emmy, RFK, duPont, Headliner and OPC. My most memorable assignments were an investigation for ABC News into the former Soviet Union’s biological weapons program, and a two-part series for CBS 60 Minutes on the crisis in Darfur.
While teaching at NYU, I am still actively producing pieces for PBS NewsHour on international affairs issues. My most recent assignment was to cover the Indonesian elections and report on Sharia law in that country’s northernmost province, Aceh.
My classes include multimedia production, television reporting and international crisis reporting so I get to teach exactly what I do! And therefore, most importantly, I also run GlobalBeat, a class and program that takes graduate students on overseas assignments, to jointly report video news pieces for PBS. And I’m always eager to help NewsDoc students with advice and practical planning on their own overseas reporting projects.
Joe Peyronnin – Professor for Digital Newsroom
I have been an adjunct journalism professor at New York University since 2008. I’m also a full-time associate journalism professor at Hofstra University. I serve as a senior advisor and investor to several new media companies, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
In 1999, I founded TelemundoNetwork News and served as its executive vice president until 2006. There I created and launched several Spanish language news programs, including Sin Fronteras, Noticiero Telemundo Fin De Semana, Enfoque, and A Rojo Vivo. I led Telemundo to its first national Emmy Award for round-the-clock coverage of the terrorist attack on New York’s World Trade Center.
From 1996 to 1998, I was a media and communications consultant at Osgood, O’Donnell & Walsh, advising corporate 500 firms on communications strategy. In 1995 and 1996, I was president of Fox News, where I put together the core organization of what would become the Fox News Channel. I also created Fox News Sunday and oversaw several news specials.
Prior to that, I served six years, 1989-1995, as vice president and assistant to the president CBS News, where I oversaw global newsgathering and news programming, including 60 Minutes, 48 Hours, Sunday Morning, The CBS Evening News, and CBS This Morning.
Before being promoted to New York, I served as CBS News vice president and Washington bureau chief for two years. From 1979 to 1986 I worked at The CBS Evening News, first as producer and then as senior Washington producer, where I regularly covered the White House, Congress, political conventions and national elections. I also covered major international assignments, including all US-Soviet summits, economic summits, and Israel’s 1981 invasion of Lebanon. In 1984, I covered President Reagan’s trip to China and also produced a series of reports from inside the Soviet Union. I began my career at CBS in 1970 as a local news producer and assignment editor in Chicago.
My awards and recognitions include the 2012 Honorary Faculty Member of the Year award from Lambda Pi Eta (communications honor society) at Hofstra University, 2004 Special Award from the Mental Health Association of New York City, 2002 Emmy Award, 1994 Who’s Who in America, 1990 George Polk Award, and a 1976 Emmy Award.
I’m currently the executive vice-chair of the Mental Health Association of NYC Board, as well as a trustee at Gracie Square Hospital, and I served as a trustee at Columbia College Chicago from 2003 to 2012. I’m a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.
I hold an MBA degree from the Walter Heller School of Business at Roosevelt University, Chicago, and a BA from Columbia College Chicago. I live in NYC.
Kirsten Johnson – Professor for Visual Thinking
When Marcia Rock first invited me to speak at a “Master Class”, I had no idea I would get hooked on the relationships I would develop in the classroom with students in my Visual Thinking Class. I love my life as an independent documentary director and cameraperson, and now I feel that the conversations I am having with students about the work they hope to make is expanding the way I think about the whole craft.
Currently, I’m reflecting a lot about what it means to be a documentary cameraperson. I’ve been doing it for over 25 years now, traveled to 86 countries, and have been honored to work with some of the most remarkable people in the field – Laura Poitras (The Oath) and her upcoming film about surveillance and Edward Snowden, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Invisible War, Derrida), Gini Reticker and Abby Disney, (Pray the Devil Back to Hell), Johanna Hamilton, a Newsdoc Alumnus! (1971), Michael Moore (Farenheit 9/11), and Raoul Peck (Profit and Nothing But!, Fatal Assistance). Now, I’m making my own film called A Blind Eye, using footage from documentaries I’ve shot over the years for other people, about how my work with the camera has impacted the people I’ve filmed and changed the way I see.
In my class, Visual Thinking, we’re trying to figure out how we think and feel through seeing. So we watch many excerpts from films, create shooting exercises that dig deep into the skills and thinking it takes to make evocative and original images, and we talk about what each student is truly interested in exploring when they shoot their Thesis project documentary in the summer following the class. The class is very much informed by the specificity of each student and the collaboration of all of us as a group. In my experience with documentary, it is the cultivation of the capacity to listen, to act with a camera, and to experience the world as a collaboration that generates the most thrilling films. And that’s what we all want more of!
Adrian Mihai – Professor for Digital NewsRoom
I am a Broadcast studio coordinator and an adjunct professor in the Journalism Institute. As a videographer and multimedia designer, I bring an inquisitive perspective that combines flexibility and experimentation in exploring the convergence of the two mediums.
Born in Romania, I maintained cultural links with his former country and produced four documentaries. The first one, E Pluribus Unum (1994), investigates the spiritual milieu of first generation immigrants from Romania, as they become integrated into the various folds of the American society. The second one, Someone Has Killed The Sphinx (1995), offers an analysis of Romanian social realities following the overthrow of Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship, as seen through the staging of “Oedipus”, at the Romanian National Opera House, by Andrei Serban.
In 1996 I produced and shot a video diary, perpetuum mobile, shot during a driving trip from New York to the shore of the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. Following this, I completed his fourth project, Quo Vadis? (1997), an analysis of the new consensus found in the American-Romanian community in support of Romania’s accession to NATO.
1998 brought a fifth project, Crossroads (1998), a 78-minute video that takes a look at Columbia University’s Graduate Acting Program, created and steered by renowned Romanian director Andrei Serban. In 2001, I completed E Biagoresqo Drom / The Endless Journey, a 109-minute documentary about the Roma/Gypsy communities of Romania.
Shimon Dotan – Professor for Political Cinema
I am an award-winning filmmaker with twelve feature films to his credit and the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship award for Creative Arts (2012) and of a Cullman fellowship for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library (2012-1013.) My films are the recipient of numerous awards including the Special Jury Prize for Best World Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival (Hot House); the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival (Smile of the Lamb); and multiple Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Film and Best Director (Repeat Dive, Smile Of The Lamb.) Dotan has taught filmmaking and film studies at Tel Aviv University, Concordia University in Montreal and The New School University in New York. I presently teach seminars on political cinema at New York University on both the graduate and undergraduate levels. I am also a fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities and a member of the Writers Guild and Directors Guild of America. I was born in Romania, grew up in Israel and resides in New York City and am currently at work on a documentary series on the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
David Spungen – Professor for Video Editing
I am Broadcast Journalism professional, specializing in producing and editing for the TV News Magazine genre. At CBS News’ 48 Hours since 2001, my work has included long-form segments, hour-long projects and same day special events such as the on-going coverage following the 9/11 attacks. My most recent documentary work was producing and editing an hour long special detailing the behind-the-scenes of the 2012 Grammys when Whitney Houston died.
As a free-lance producer/editor since 1986, I’ve had product on ABC News, PBS, MSNBC, The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, Lifetime, The Travel Channel and WE Network. Am proud to say that I’ve won an Emmy and have just received my fourth nomination. This year I also won a DuPont-Columbia Award.
I have had the privilege of teaching at NYU since 2001 and received a M.S. in Telecommunications from Indiana University.