Call for Nominations: 2020 John P. Murray Audience Development Award

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The deadline to submit a nomination for the 2020 John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development has passed.

View message from David Chavern, President & CEO of the Alliance:

John Murray

Established in 2019 in memory of the Alliance’s long-time colleague, the John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development recognizes three Alliance member news organizations each year that have demonstrated exceptional innovation and sophistication in understanding content strategy as part of audience development.

The 2019 recipients, announced in February 2020, included The Fort Collins Coloradoan, The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC) and the Chicago Tribune. Click here to view the Alliance Audience Development Best Practices Webinar with the 2019 recipients for more background (member login required).

We received many great nominations last year and unfortunately, it was not possible to select them all. If you submitted a nomination last year that wasn’t selected, we encourage you to submit again! Tell us what has happened in the last year to move the program forward.

Click here to submit your nomination.

What to submit?

Since early this year, there has been no shortage of news around which to implement innovative audience development and engagement strategies. We saw an unprecedented event in the form of the pandemic, which drove readers to their local news publishers to learn about how the coronavirus was impacting their community. In addition, since the death of George Floyd in May, cities and towns across the country have witnessed historic protests calling for greater racial equality and the end of systemic racism. And all in an election year that saw some of the biggest challenges of any U.S. presidential election in history.

While your nominations can center around any audience development efforts you undertook this year, these major events of 2020 represent obvious areas for possible focus, as they likely prompted last-minute changes to your existing strategies and/or the development of new strategies.

For example:
  • How did your organization engage with your audience on these news events, and on what platforms (e.g. social media, video streaming, etc.)?
  • What new products did you introduce to grow audience, engagement, and/or subscriptions (e.g. email newsletters, new print/online verticals)?
  • What content formats (e.g. audio, video, text messaging, etc.) did you use to maximize engagement?
  • How did you adapt live events to grow audience?
  • How did you get your readers involved in the editorial process?
  • What was the impact on subscriptions?

How it works

Alliance members can nominate themselves or other Alliance member news organizations for consideration for the award. Nominations will be accepted through Friday, February 19, 2021. The three recipients, one in each newspaper size category (small = 50 or fewer employees, medium = 51-250 employees, and large = more than 250 employees), will be announced in the Spring of 2021.

Cash Prize: This year, the recipient(s) will each receive a $500 cash prize to put toward enhancing their audience development and engagement efforts.

Nominations should be submitted through completing the form here or below.

Selecting the recipients

Once again, the 2020 award recipients will be selected by a group of Alliance and American Press Institute (API) executives. The selection panel will be looking for deep insight into “on and off platform” audience behavior and intelligent use of social and search analytics. As a benchmark of nominees’ success, the panel will use the seven Table Stakes capacities of modern news publishing, which were developed as part of the Knight Lenfest Local News Transformation program, now managed by API.

The recipients of this year’s John P. Murray Award will be announced via a press release; invited to co-host an Alliance member webinar to share best practices; and receive an award to display at their property. The Alliance will also add the 2020 recipients’ names to the John P. Murray Award plaque on display at our headquarters.



  1. The John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development will be awarded to three newsrooms annually – one in each size category (small – 50 or fewer employees; medium – between 51 and 250 employees; and large – more than 250 employees).
  2. The recipients will be selected by a small panel of Alliance and API executives from the nominees and will be evaluated using the seven ‘table stakes’ capacities of modern news publishing, which were developed as part of the Knight Lenfest Local News Transformation program, now managed by API.
  3. Alliance newspaper members may submit nominations here or using the form below by the designated deadline for consideration. They may nominate themselves or another Alliance newspaper member, and they may submit more than one nomination. Non-Alliance member newspaper nominations will not be considered.
  4. Should there be a lack of qualifying nominations for any category, the selection panel may contribute nominations and/or designate a recipient of its choice.
  5. The Alliance will notify the recipients that they have been selected and they will have the option to accept or decline the award.
  6. Confirmed recipients will be announced via a News Media Alliance press release.


Submit Your Nomination

The deadline to submit a nomination for the 2020 John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development has passed.

Complete the form below and submit (make sure you click the “Submit” button), or click here.

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