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Documenting the Future

Alongside television news, documentaries have profoundly influenced Jon Murray’s career producing TV programs and feature films.

Now, a $6.7 million gift from the creator of MTV’s The Real World will establish a documentary filmmaking program at the Missouri School of Journalism. Murray’s gift is the single largest outright gift by an individual in J-School history and the only one that endows an entire program. The program will offer undergraduate and graduate degrees, and it is scheduled to launch in fall 2015.

A documentary can be a wonderful way of elevating a conversation about a subject,” says Murray, who announced the gift Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. “A doc doesn’t necessarily have to tell you how to think, but hopefully it can get you to re-examine something and come to a more educated opinion.”

Murray, BJ ’77, established Bunim/Murray Productions in 1987 with his late business partner Mary-Ellis Bunim. In addition to hit programs such as Road Rules and Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Bunim/Murray has produced powerful documentary films, including Valentine Road and Autism: The Musical.

The program, which will be the first of its kind housed in a U.S. journalism school, will include new courses outlining the history of documentary journalism, business models for the craft, and a broadcast lab. It also will employ three new faculty members.

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