Missouri School of Journalism

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Missouri School of Journalism
Established 1908 (by Walter Williams)
Type Public
Parent institution
University of Missouri
Dean David Kurpius
Academic staff
Students 2,250+
Undergraduates 2,000
Postgraduates 250 (master's and doctoral)
Location Columbia, Missouri, United States
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Website journalism.missouri.edu

The Missouri School of Journalism at University of Missouri in Columbia is a journalism school which may be the oldest formal journalism school in the world. Founded in 1908, only the Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme de Paris established in 1899 may be older. The school provides academic education and practical training in all areas of journalism and strategic communication for undergraduate and graduate students across several media including television and radio broadcasting, newspapers, magazines, photography, and new media. The school also supports a robust advertising and public relations curriculum.

Founded by Walter Williams in 1908, the school publishes the city's Columbia Missourian newspaper and produces news programming for the market's NBC-TV affiliate and NPR member radio station. Considered one of the top journalism schools in the world, it is known for its "Missouri Method," through which students learn about journalism in the classroom as well as practicing it in multimedia laboratories and real-world outlets. The School also operates an international journalists’ magazine, a local city magazine, a statewide business journal, a statehouse news bureau and two student-staffed advertising and public relations agencies.

Several affiliated professional organizations, including Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Pictures of the Year International, allow students to interact with working journalists.

In 1930, the school established its Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism. The faculty selects medalists based on lifetime or superior achievement for distinguished service; each year a different aspect of journalism is selected for recognition.


Two stone lions, a gift to the school by the Chinese government in 1931, grace the arch between Neff and Walter Williams Halls.

The school opened on September 14, 1908, at the urging of Joseph Pulitzer, following lobbying by Walter Williams, the editor of the Columbia (Missouri) Herald and a university curator. It was based in Switzler Hall. In 1895, the Missouri State Senate defeated a bill that requested a chair of journalism be established at the school (previously newspapers usually required apprenticeships). The Missouri Press Association began supporting the proposal in 1896.

The first day's class published the first issue of the University Missourian, which was to become the Columbia Missourian. Williams was the first dean. Among the original faculty members was Charles Griffith Ross, who would become press secretary for President Harry S. Truman. In 1910, the school began its Journalism Week celebration. On March 10, Kappa Tau Alpha was founded.

In 1919, Jay Holcomb Neff Hall, the first building formally assigned to the school, was built by a donation from Andrew Neff, a 1913 journalism graduate, in honor of his late father, a former Kansas City, Missouri mayor and publisher. At the time, it was the largest donation in the university history.[1]

In 1921, the school offered the world's first master's degree in journalism. In 1930, it created the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism. In 1934, it offered the world's first Doctor of Philosophy degree in journalism. In 1936, the school began offering broadcast courses in conjunction with KFRU, the radio station owned by the St. Louis Star-Times.

In 1944, Professor Clifton C. Edom and his wife Vi, in association with the school, developed the "News Pictures of Year Competition and Exhibition," now "Pictures of the Year International". A year later, they started the "College Photograph of the Year" program.[2][3]

In 1953, the university launched KOMU-TV, the only university-owned full-power commercial television station in the US, used as a training lab for students who provide its news programming. In 1958, the school opened the Freedom of Information Center, the world's first academic center dedicated to the topic. In 1971, the school switched its radio news programming to KBIA, a National Public Radio station.

In 1957, George McElroy, a pioneering black journalist from Texas, became the first African American to receive a master's degree in journalism from the university.[4]

In 1981, the school was ranked the top journalism school in the country, under dean Roy M. Fisher. In February 2004, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation awarded the School $31 million, the largest private donation ever to the University of Missouri, to create The Reynolds Journalism Institute. In 2008, the Reynolds Institute opened, offering advanced studies of journalism and its role in democratic societies.

In 2010, the school revamped its curriculum so undergraduate students could choose from an array of more than 30 interest areas. These are designed to build expertise in areas in which journalism and strategic communication majors typically find careers.

Degrees offered


Bachelor of Journalism

Journalism students choose from an array of interest areas designed to build expertise in areas in which journalism and strategic communication majors typically find jobs. More than 30 interest areas are available in areas such as convergence journalism; design for magazine, news and multimedia; writing for news and magazines; producing for radio, television and multimedia; documentary journalism; international journalism, strategic communication areas such as account management, art direction, copywriting, digital advertising, media planning, public relations, research, sports and entertainment promotion, and video promotional content. One option allows students to individually design a course of study if none of the existing interest areas meet the student's needs.

A total of 120 credit hours are required for the bachelor of journalism degree. Of this number, 44 credits are from journalism, with remaining credits coming from non-journalism courses. In a typical four-year plan, students take 13 of the 44 credits in journalism during their freshman and sophomore years before beginning specialized study during the junior and senior years.

Graduate programs

A strong connection with theory, research and practice is the philosophy behind the School’s graduate degree program. Students have access to several applied research centers, including the Health Communication Research Center, YAYA (Youth and Young Adult) Media and the Stephenson Research Center, named for the late William Stephenson, known globally as the inventor of Q-methodology. The Reynolds Journalism Institute develops and tests ways to improve journalism through new technology and improved processes. The Frank L. Martin Journalism Library provides numerous resources for scholarship. The first Master of Arts degree in journalism was offered at Missouri in 1921; the first doctor of philosophy degree in journalism in 1934.

Master of Arts in Journalism

With approximately two dozen models, the master of arts in journalism degree can be tailored to fit the student’s interests. Students have three general ways to complete the degree program: the on-campus two-year program, the online program for mid-career professionals and the BJ/MA (bachelor’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism plus one-year master’s studies) program. There are also options for students to pursue both the master’s in journalism and the juris doctorate in law or a master's in public health. More than 50 of the School’s professors serve on the graduate faculty.

Doctor of Philosophy in Journalism

The doctoral program provides students with the opportunity to craft their own research agendas with some of the most-renown scholars in the field. Faculty areas of research specialization include: Disaster, Crisis and Risk Communication; Ethics and Communication Law; Health Communication; Media Effects; Media History; Media Sociology; Persuasion; and Political Communication. Our 18 doctoral faculty and 16 affiliated doctoral faculty from across the University of Missouri campus specialize in all relevant areas of study in journalism and mass communication. They dedicate a significant amount of time and attention to mentoring the emerging scholars in our doctoral program.


The journalism courtyard seen from the Francis Quadrangle on the MU Red Campus

The Missouri School of Journalism has eight buildings dedicated to the practice and teaching of journalism. These are Jay H. Neff Hall (1920), Walter Williams Hall and the Journalism Arch (1937), KOMU-TV (1953), Neff Annex (1962), Gannett Hall (1979), Lee Hills Hall (1995) and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (2008).

The classrooms and equipment include two high-tech design labs; three writing labs; a digital television editing lab; two major auditoriums with state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities; an electronic photojournalism laboratory; an advanced computer lab for producing Web-based text, audio and video materials; more than 550 computers; and wireless network access. The Futures Lab and Technology Demonstration Center at the Reynolds Journalism Institute allow students to work alongside professionals and researchers to discover new ways to serve democracy through journalism.

Media outlets

As part of the "Missouri Method" of hands-on journalism education, undergraduate and graduate students work at the School's nine community-based real-media outlets. News is delivered using traditional, digital, online and mobile formats. The outlets include the Columbia Missourian, a daily general-circulation newspaper and website; KOMU-TV, the NBC affiliate for mid-Missouri; KBIA-FM, an NPR member station; Vox, a weekly entertainment magazine; Global Journalist, a magazine for the international news business; Newsy.com, an online video news service; Missouri Digital News, a state government reporting program based in Jefferson City; Mojo Ad, a student-staffed agency that focuses on the 18-to-24 age Youth and Young Adult (YAYA) market; and Adzou, the strategic communication capstone agency.

Reynolds Journalism Institute

The Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) is a center for researching and testing new models of journalism in an era of technological advances. RJI makes the most of its location at the Missouri School of Journalism and the extensive resources at the university. It also takes advantage of the collective creativity of visiting professionals and researchers.

RJI was launched in 2004 with an initial grant of $31 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. In conjunction with the centennial celebration of the School, it dedicated its world headquarters on September 12, 2008. This 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) facility has state-of-the-art resources to test and demonstrate new technologies, experiment with convergence news production and delivery systems, and conduct real-time and virtual seminars and conferences.

RJI’s work crosses diverse specialties within journalism, including media convergence, editorial content and methods, the evolution of advertising, innovation in management and the impact of new technologies. It also includes varied fields on campus such as law, computer science, marketing, education and other disciplines.

In the Futures Lab, interdisciplinary teams of journalism, business and computer science students work together to create the future of journalism.

Endowed chairs

The School has 10 endowed chairs:

1982: Goldenson Chair in Local Broadcasting The Goldenson Chair in Local Broadcasting helps develop research programs and educate communities through local broadcast stations. The chair is named for Leonard Goldenson (1905-1999), who founded the American Broadcasting Company.

1986: Meredith Chair in Service Journalism The Meredith Corporation, based in Des Moines, Iowa, established an endowed chair in service journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism in 1986.

1995: Lee Hills Chair in Free-Press Studies Lee Hills had a long and varied newspaper career; he worked as a reporter, foreign correspondent, news editor, editorial writer, editor, managing editor, executive editor, and publisher and CEO of two major newspapers, the Detroit Free Press and the Miami Herald. Hills, who attended the Missouri School of Journalism between 1927 and 1929, was also the first chairman and CEO of Knight-Ridder Newspapers.

1997: Knight Chair in Journalism The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation helped fund an endowed chair and program in editing, recognizing editors as central to the success of a newspaper. The Knight Chair in Journalism and the Knight Center for Editing Excellence, which stimulates innovations in teaching and research on editing, was partially funded by the state of Missouri, which provided a $1.5 million matching grant. Programming at the Knight Center is aimed at educating and assisting high school students, undergraduates, graduate students and mid-career professionals.

1997: Maxine Wilson Gregory Chair in Journalism Research Maxine Wilson Gregory, an alumna of the Missouri School of Journalism, died in New York City in 1995. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas, after which she attended MU, graduating in 1930. Gregory worked as an editor on various book projects after graduation, and a bequest made after her death was used to fund the endowed chair that bears her name.

1998: Houston Harte Chair in Journalism The family of Houston Harte, co-founder of the Harte-Hanks newspaper group, established the Houston Harte Chair in Journalism. Harte, who graduated in 1915, bought his first newspaper while still a student at the Missouri School of Journalism. At the time of his death, he was executive chairman of Harte-Hanks Newspapers, Inc., which owned 19 newspapers and one television station. The Houston Harte Chair works as a teaching editor at the Columbia Missourian, the general-circulation daily newspaper staffed by professors and students.

1998: Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting When Edgar A. McLaughlin graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism in 1931, he said, "If I ever make any money, I am going to do something for this place." Years later a gift from the E.A. and Lucile McLaughlin estate recognized Curtis B. Hurley, the country editor who, in 1927, both encouraged McLaughlin to study journalism at Missouri, and also lent him $400 to do so. McLaughlin credited Hurley and his experience at the School of Journalism with turning his life around, and left the bulk of his estate to the School.

2000: Missouri Chair in Community Newspaper Management More than 100 community publishers, alumni of the school, and friends of Missouri Press Association and the school made contributions to make this endowed chair possible. The Chair in Community Newspaper Management is a joint effort by the School and the MPA to strengthen and promote the teaching of community newspapering.

2000: Society of American Business Editors and Writers Endowed Missouri Chair in Business and Financial Journalism The SABEW Chair in Business and Financial Journalism is a joint effort by the School and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers to strengthen and promote the teaching of business journalism. Headquartered at the Missouri School of Journalism, SABEW is an organization of more than 3,200 dedicated business and financial writers and editors.

2008: Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation awarded the School a $2 million grant to establish the Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Chair in Business Journalism in 2008. The chair is the second in business journalism at the School, joining the Society of American Business Editors and Writers Chair, established in 2000. Working with other faculty and staff of Reynolds Journalism Institute, the Reynolds Chair helps develop, test and write about new digital models of journalism and advertising.

Notable alumni

Student groups

Students can participate in more than a dozen student groups, most affiliated with national organizations. These include AAF Mizzou, American Copy Editors Society; Asian-American Student Journalists Association; Journalism Ambassadors; Journalism Student Council; Kappa Alpha Mu; Magazine Club; National Association of Hispanic Journalists; National Association of Black Journalists (Alé Chapter); National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (Mizzou NLGJA); Radio Television Digital News Association; Society of Professional Journalists; and the Student Society of News Design.

Professional organizations

The 10 professional organizations and programs affiliated with the School allow students to interact with working journalists and news-related organizations. These are the American Society of News Editors; Association of Health Care Journalists [1]; the Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism; Investigative Reporters and Editors [2]; Journalism and Women’s Symposium; Missouri Interscholastic Press Association; National Freedom of Information Coalition [3]; National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting [4]; Pictures of the Year International; and the Religion Newswriters Association [5].


  • Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications [6]


  1. A Creed for My Profession: Walter Williams, Journalist to the World - By Ronald T. Farrar - University of Missouri Press - 1998 - ISBN 0-8262-1188-7 - Page 175
  2. Pictures of the Year International History
  3. College Photographer of the Year History
  4. "George McElroy, columnist and reporter, dies - US news - Life - Race & ethnicity - NBCNews.com". MSNBC. 2006-10-16. Retrieved 2012-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links