News Media Alliance Announces Recipients of 2021 John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development

Four newsrooms honored for successful, novel approaches to audience engagement


John Murray

Arlington, VA – The News Media Alliance has named The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead (North Dakota) (Small category), the Detroit Free Press (Medium category), the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (Medium Category) and Newsday (Long Island, NY) (Large category) as the recipients of the 2021 John P. Murray Award for Excellence in Audience Development.

A selection committee of Alliance and American Press Institute (API) staff members selected the four recipients (with a tie in the Medium category) 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; development of thoughtful, responsive content and programs to help readers navigate important issues (e.g., Covid-19 vaccines, local crime, etc.); livestreaming sports and virtual events; and leveraging social media, video, and newsletter products to introduce their brands to new audiences resulted in measurable positive impacts on audience growth, subscription and advertiser revenue, and print and digital subscriptions.

All four 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 continue to be amazed at the innovation and creativity our members have shown year after year in their submissions for this Award. While we received many impressive nominations again this year, these four news organizations showed some amazing results in growing audience and revenue for their digital products and services that exemplify what is possible when news organizations listen to readers and what they need, and meet them where they are. 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.”

Michael Bolden, Executive Director and CEO of API, said, “The four winners of the John P. Murray Award demonstrated successful applications of the transformational thinking news organizations must put into practice in the digital age to better serve their communities. The winners can build on their success, while their work offers useful case studies that other publishers can follow in their own markets. Putting such peer learning into practice is one of the most powerful tools we have in journalism to help move the industry forward.”

This is the third 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 2021 John P. Murray Award:

  • Stephanie Schroeder, Chief Customer & Marketing Officer at Forum Communications said, “The Forum is beyond honored to be chosen as one of the recipients of this prestigious award. We believe that our audience is our most valuable asset, so we are proud to be recognized for our efforts in trying to better serve them. Our work is not yet finished – and it likely never will be – but it’s work we feel privileged to do.”
  • Brian Manzullo, Social, Search & Audience Editor at the Detroit Free Press stated, “On behalf of the Detroit Free Press, it’s an absolute honor to receive this award from the News Media Alliance in memory of John Murray. It’s a testament to the efforts by our entire newsroom in not just engaging our audiences, but involving them throughout the newsgathering process to empower our journalism and deliver meaningful impact in our communities. Thank you so much to the News Media Alliance for recognizing our work, and most of all thank you to our readers who help push us to become better at serving them.”
  • Dennis Francis, Oahu Publications, Inc. President and Publisher said, “Innovative audience development allows the Honolulu Star-Advertiser to focus on its core mission of providing the community with local news, sports, commentary and entertainment while spurring public discussions on the critical issues affecting the lives of our readers and the communities they serve across the State.”
  • Debby Krenek, Publisher of Newsday, said, “We could not be prouder of what the team has achieved for our organization with Newsday LIVE events. We’re incredibly honored that their work is being recognized by our peers at the News Media Alliance.” Melissa Carfero, Newsday’s manager of event strategy and development, added, “It’s a tremendous honor to receive this award and to be recognized by News Media Alliance, especially for excellence in audience development. The success Newsday LIVE has seen year over year is undoubtedly attributed to the expertise, determination and unwavering commitment our team shares in making each event more successful than the last.”

All four recipients will receive an award to display at their property; a check for $1,000 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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