Digital Documentary in the Age of the Internet

Course Fee: $30
Summer 2017
Joshua Glick

In the last 20 years, new media technologies have transformed the documentary film. Just as innovative modes of production, online distribution, and exhibition have fundamentally changed the way documentaries are made, dynamic forms of documentary have had a profound influence on how people view their local community and the broader world around them. This course explores how prominent filmmakers, public television stations, international human rights groups, and amateur videomakers have made use of and shaped today’s changing documentary formats. We will examine films by Oliver Stone and Spike Lee, Virtual Reality projects by Within, programs by Netflix and PBS, online shorts by VICE, YouTube Stars, and citizen journalists, as well as elaborate 3D productions by the New York Times. We will also investigate the rise of “fake news” and reality TV.

Leading figures in the world of contemporary documentary will visit our class. Additionally, we will embark on site visits in NYC. This special feature of the course will provide the chance to learn about documentary within an increasingly diversified media environment.


Through taking this course students will gain knowledge of the following:

  • The contemporary new media landscape of documentary with special attention to pioneering and popular projects.  

  • An overview of the history and evolution of nonfiction film, television, and web-based productions.

  • Techniques for critically analyzing and writing about multiple types of audio-visual media.

  • The relationship between documentaries and the social context in which they are created, circulated, and received.


There are two main assignments for this course:

  • Working in small groups, students will give one presentation on how a filmmaker or filmmaking organization uses new media in the creation and exhibition of a documentary.

  • Students will write a final essay on a documentary.


For course schedule and location, please visit the School of Professional Studies summer site here.



Current Columbia students can review tuition and fees here.
Visiting students can review tuition and fees here.




For questions about School of the Arts summer courses, including those concerning admissions, registration, and billing, please contact the School of Professional Studies summer team at or 212-854-9666. With questions about specific course content, please contact Film Departmental Representative Robert King at