The Jonathan B. Murray Center
Housed in the renowned Missouri School of Journalism, The Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism encapsulates our vision for a forward-thinking documentary storytelling program. The 2015 inauguration of the Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism marked the latest addition to Missouri Journalism’s already expansive repertoire of specialized journalism programs. The center is run by two of the most experienced and celebrated contemporary film and journalism professionals in the industry, who will provide individualized instruction to a group of handpicked documentary students. Students learn about modern documentary theory against the backdrop of a Missouri Journalism curriculum focused on mainstream and relevant journalistic classes such as news writing and cross-cultural journalism. The program balances these rich classroom experiences with the Missouri Method, which is the hands-on approach emphasized only at the Missouri School of Journalism. The center is equipped with the latest camera and editing equipment to enable students to produce professional, publishable works in their time at the school.
Jonathan B. Murray
Widely credited with inventing the modern reality television genre, Jonathan B. Murray has had a tremendous effect on television and movie audiences all over the world. After graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism, Murray began his career in local TV news and programming across the U.S. In 1987, he and business partner Mary-Ellis Bunim combined her knowledge of scripted television production with his news and documentary experience to form Bunim/Murray Productions (BMP). The pair brought an unprecedented idea for an unscripted drama series to MTV executives over breakfast in 1991. MTV bought the show before lunchtime, and the landmark success of BMP was underway was underway with the production of The Real World. The innovative series broke all the rules of television production and quickly became part of the cultural DNA of young people the world over, continuing to garner audiences after many seasons. Since the launch of The Real World, Murray has been behind some of televisions most popular unscripted programs, including I Am Cait, Keeping up with the Kardashians, The Simple Life, Stewarts & Hamiltons and Total Divas, The Challenge, Project Runway, Project Runway All Stars, Under the Gunn, Love Thy Sister and Bad Girls Club.
“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. 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 film makers to do great work, a goal that I share with MU.”
In March 2007, Bunim/Murray launched BMP Films. The company’s first film, “Autism: The Musical,” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2007 with broad praise and audience awards at major film festivals across the country. The film premiered on HBO in March 2008 and won two Emmys®. BMP Films’ “Valentine Road” was an official selection in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It was also awarded a prestigious Ford Foundation Grant for reducing poverty and injustice; promoting democratic values; and advancing human knowledge, creativity and achievement. The documentary premiered on HBO in October 2013. In 2010, BMP was purchased by Banijay entertainment, opening its programs to an international market. Murray stepped down as chairman in April 2015, moving into a new role as the company’s executive consultant, a creative force to develop series and documentary passion projects, and oversee some of the company’s longest running series. In February 2014, Murray announced a gift of $6.7 million to found a documentary journalism program at the Missouri School of Journalism. It was one of the largest gifts in the school’s history. The Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism focuses on the increasing demand for video content across multiple media platforms, offering Bachelor of Journalism and Master of Arts degrees in the field of documentary journalism. Of the gift, Murray said, “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. 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.”