News Media Alliance Announces Recipients of John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development

Three newsrooms honored for innovation in improving audience engagement, growing digital subscriptions

Arlington, VA – The News Media Alliance has named the (Fort Collins) Coloradoan, The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC) and the Chicago Tribune as the recipients of the 2019 John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development.

A selection committee of Alliance and American Press Institute (API) executives selected the Coloradoan (Small category), The Post and Courier (Medium category), and the Chicago Tribune (Large category) for their exceptional innovation and sophistication in understanding content strategy as part of audience development; their effective relationships with their editorial staff; and the measurable impact on business performance. In addition, all three news publishers successfully applied one or more of the seven ‘Table Stakes’ capacities of modern news publishing, which were developed as part of the Knight Lenfest Local News Transformation program.

The Alliance announced the creation of the John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development in October 2019, in memory of former Vice President of Audience Development John Murray, who was with the organization for 20 years before passing away in 2018. Murray was known across the news industry for helping Alliance member news publishers improve audience development and engagement, and for convening members to share best practices.

“We were very impressed with all of the nominations we received this year. However, these three newsrooms stood out for the innovative strategies employed and the amazing results achieved, including significant digital subscriber growth,” stated Alliance President and CEO David Chavern. “John would have been really proud of the amazing strides news publishers are making in audience development and retention.”

In response to being named a recipient of the 2019 John P. Murray Award:

  • Jennifer Hefty, content strategist with the Coloradoan, said, “For the past year and a half, our team has worked hard to reorganize and change the way we think about our audience. We have really rallied around the shared goal of being a self-sustaining newsroom, working to ensure the future of local news in our community through reader revenue. It’s amazing to be part of a team that is committed to a common vision and is never afraid to experiment. We are grateful for and honored by the recognition.”
  • P.J. Browning, publisher of The Post and Courier, stated, “We are honored to receive this award. Our team has been on a steep learning curve after participating in Poynter Table Stakes and the Google News Subscriptions Lab. We feel like we’ve been running at a fast pace for the last year. We have a daily focus on audience growth and it is rewarding to see the results and have confidence in supporting the future of our news organization.”
  • Christine Taylor, managing editor of audience at the Chicago Tribune, stated, “We are excited to receive this award and honor John’s legacy of audience development. We are very proud of the work the Chicago Tribune newsroom has done in the last year to grow our local reach and digital subscribers. We’ve been able to do this with increased focus on mobile storytelling, improving collaboration in the newsroom and evolving how we think about audience data.”

All three recipients will receive an award to display at their property and will be invited to co-host an upcoming Alliance member webinar to share their best practices with fellow members. The Alliance will also have a larger plaque at its headquarters, to which it will add the names of the recipients for each year.


Media Contact:
Lindsey Loving
Director, Communications

The News Media Alliance is a nonprofit organization representing more than 2,000 news organizations and their multiplatform businesses in the United States and globally. Alliance members include print, digital and mobile publishers of original news content. Headquartered near Washington, D.C., in Arlington, Va., the association focuses on ensuring the future of news media through communication, research, advocacy and innovation. Information about the News Media Alliance (formerly NAA) can be found at


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