Bunim/Murray Productions chairman Jonathan Murray (pictured) is giving US$6.7 million to his alma mater, Missouri University’s School of Journalism, towards funding a documentary journalism program that will be one of the largest of its kind.
The new program will offer bachelor of journalism and master of arts degrees, fund research in documentary journalism, and open three faculty positions. The bachelor’s program will be offered in the fall 2015 semester, while the master’s start date is still to be determined. The donation will also fund an annual summer workshop on documentary journalism.
Murray, a 1977 graduate of the school, is credited with helping pioneer the reality television genre with shows such as MTV’s The Real World and E!’s The Simple Life.
“It’s an honor for me to give back to the University of Missouri, an institution that helped build my journalistic foundation, upon which I shaped my career in news, documentaries and television before creating Bunim/Murray Productions,” said Murray in a statement.
“The establishment of this new documentary journalism program is my way of helping to ensure that we’ve prepared the media and entertainment industry’s future documentary filmmakers to do great work, a goal that I share with MU.”
Dean Mills, dean of the school, added: “Mr. Murray’s gift makes it possible for the School of Journalism to launch an exciting new program in documentary journalism, a field with growing audiences and, thanks to the Internet and other new technologies, infinite potential for reaching those audiences.
“It will give us the chance to marry the innovative approaches of documentary storytelling and presentation with the strong tradition of accuracy and fact-finding that has always been a hallmark of the School of Journalism.”