Woelfel named director of planned Jonathan Murray Documentary Journalism Center

Woelfel will direct the Jonathan Murray Documentary Journalism Center starting Sept. 1, 2014. The center will officially launch the following year.

As the outgoing news director of KOMU/NBC, Stacey Woelfel has a total of 34 years of experience with broadcast and television journalism.

A member of the School of Journalism teaching faculty, Woelfel has spent countless hours at the KOMU station coaching students in the radio and television track for the past 28 years.

Now, Woelfel will switch to a longer form of television journalism as the new director of the Jonathan Murray Documentary Journalism Center starting Sept. 1.

The center will officially launch the following year, in the Fall 2015 semester.

Dean Mills, School of Journalism dean, said Kent Collins, chairman of the Radio-Television Journalism Faculty, recommended Woelfel to the position.

Mills said he believes Woelfel was the right choice.

“Stacey has been a very capable manager in his many years at KOMU, and is very good at interacting with people,” Mills said. “And he has a deep knowledge of documentary films. He seemed like a logical choice.”

In addition to being news director, Woelfel has also had exposure to the documentary industry.

As an official True/False Film Festival screener who planned to see 19 documentaries during the 2014 festivities, Woelfel said he also has a passion for telling stories in the documentary style.

There has never been a better time for students to learn more about the documentary side of things, Woelfel said.

“The center will give students (a) chance to learn a skill that has never been as in demand as it is now,” he said.

Woelfel will be succeeded at KOMU by current executive producer Randy Reeves, who has worked at the station for 11 years.

Reeves said Woelfel is exceedingly qualified to lead a project that he has seen the need for for years.

“The documentary program is one of the biggest things that has happened to the journalism school in the last 25-30 years,” Reeves said. “We have students consistently who don’t quite fit into the traditional print, broadcast, magazine, strategic communications positions. They want to tell different kinds of stories, and there’s nothing more open-ended and welcoming than the documentary format.”

Despite the challenge of adding a whole new sequence to the journalism school, Reeves said he has confidence in Woelfel’s ability to do a good job with planning the curriculum and hiring the needed faculty.

“It’s hard work, but I think Stacey is uniquely qualified to help,” Reeves said. “He’s very organized, (and) he’s always been in tune with the broadcast industry. He knows how to get things done. Every job has its necessary requirements, but he’s always thinking, he’s always planning, and that’s going to serve the documentary program so well.”

The center will hire two faculty, in addition to Woelfel, with extensive experience in the documentary industry. There will also be a laboratory built with film-making equipment and cameras that students will use, Woelfel said.

Mills and Woelfel are still planning the curriculum and various other aspects of the program.

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