News Media Alliance Announces Recipients of 2020 John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development

Three newsrooms honored for innovation, success in growing audience, engagement amid major 2020 news events


John Murray

Arlington, VA – The News Media Alliance has named the Arizona Daily Star’s #ThisIsTucson (Small category), The Keene Sentinel (Keene, NH) (Medium category), and McClatchy (Large category) as the recipients of the 2020 John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development.

A selection committee of Alliance and American Press Institute (API) executives selected the three recipients for their exceptional innovation and sophistication in understanding content strategy as part of audience development. Their effective use of multiple platforms and formats for sharing content; thoughtful content and programs to help readers navigate the events of 2020, including the coronavirus pandemic, protests against systemic racism, and the 2020 presidential election; and registration programs to introduce their brands to new audiences, among other major undertakings, resulted in measurable positive impacts on audience growth, subscription and circulation revenue, and print and digital subscriptions.

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.

Alliance President and CEO, David Chavern, stated, “We have been really pleased with the response from our members to this award. Even in the midst of a global pandemic that threatened the livelihoods of many local news publishers, our members were able to show incredible growth.

Chavern continued, “While we received several impressive nominations again this year, these three organizations showed some amazing results that really demonstrate how far the industry has come, and how news publishers have innovated and are seeing great success in growing audience and revenue for their digital products and services. I know John Murray would have been really excited and proud to see the hard work news publishers are putting in that is paying off in the form of new and engaged audiences.”

Jeff Sonderman, Deputy Executive Director and Executive Vice President at API, stated, “As the United States and the world were rocked this past year by crises and major events, it became more important than ever that news organizations center their audiences’ needs in their reporting and expand to serve all types of people. This year’s award recipients provide inspiring examples of how growth is possible through refining content strategies to appeal to more people while improving business practices to grow reader revenue. It’s a pleasure to congratulate the winners and to know that the work they carry on serves the legacy of John Murray so well.”

This is the second year of the John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development, which was established in memory of former Vice President of Audience Development John Murray, who was with the organization for over 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.

In response to being named a recipient of the 2020 John P. Murray Award:

  • Irene McKisson, #ThisIsTucson team leader, said, “We’re honored that our team was chosen as an example of how a small team can make innovation and content strategy a central part of audience development.”
  • Terrence Williams, President and Chief Operating Officer of The Keene Sentinel, stated, “We are delighted to receive a John P. Murray Award and be among the many prestigious past and current recipients. It’s been a total company effort to grow our digital audience while doing all we can to hold onto print subscribers, too. Being part of the Table Stakes program at Poynter in 2019-2020 provided us invaluable guidance and practices, and we continue to work at those daily. My praise goes to our staff members who have committed to this effort and to our readers for their support of our journalism.”
  • Abby Reimer, Director of Consumer Product & Research at McClatchy, stated, “The success of McClatchy’s registered user strategy shows the impact of collaborative work, thoughtful design, and listening to research. We leaned on data analysis, and A/B testing to implement a holistic mid-funnel experience that has so far led to more than 1.75 million registered users and more than 20,000 new subscribers. We’re excited to continue this important work, which sustains local, essential journalism in our communities.”

All three recipients will receive an award to display at their property; a check for $500 to put toward enhancing their audience development and engagement efforts; and will be invited to present their success stories an upcoming Alliance member best practices webinar. The Alliance will also add this year’s recipients to a plaque that is displayed at its headquarters.

For more information about the John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development, click here.


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 just outside of Washington, D.C., 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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