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Posted on Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 5:50 a.m.

Stefanie Murray promoted to new role at focusing on reader engagement

By Tony Dearing


Stefanie Murray

Stefanie Murray, who has led's community team since our launch, has accepted a newly created position that will emphasize audience engagement with both news and advertising.

Murray begins her duties as real-time engagement officer today. In addition to overseeing our social media efforts, she will work in a variety of ways to increase the frequency with which people interact with our website, our e-mail newsletters and our advertising messages. She also will continue to oversee commenting and comment moderation on the site.

"Stefanie built our community effort from the ground up, and the skills that made her so successful in that effort are the skills we need in this new role,'' said Matt Kraner, president and CEO. "She understands all the ways that we need to reach people and be relevant to them in the digital age, and that will be her focus.''

Murray was one of the first hires at AnnArbor,com, joining us as community director. The job was an unconventional one for a media organization, focused on recruiting community members and bloggers to contribute content to the site on topics as varied as food and drink, books, faith and neighborhoods.

In her new role, Murray will take the knowledge we've gained from monitoring our site traffic and watching what readers are responding to in real time and expand on it to better expose readers to the variety of news and advertising available each day.

She also will work to increase the number of people who receive newsletters and who are finding and sharing our content through social media, as well as the number of people who register on the site, comment on a story or click through to advertising messages.

Prior to joining, Murray worked at The Ann Arbor News as business team leader and also at The Lansing State Journal. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and broadcasting from Central MIchigan University and a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.


Jen Eyer

Readers of the newspaper also recognized Murray for the "Talk About Town'' feature that she does weekly with radio personality Lucy Ann Lance.

Jen Eyer, a member of the community team, has been appointed to assume responsibilities of's community director. Eyer has been responsible for building strong content and audience in the topic areas of parenting and pets, including recruiting community contributors to share their stories and launching regular weekly features such as parenting columns and a pet blogging feature. Eyer also successfully started and grew readership for a twice-weekly parenting newsletter. In addition, she has written a consumer advocacy column.

Eyer is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism, and spent several years as a newspaper reporter covering local government beats and six years as a news producer at She has written the Neurotic Mom blog on since 2004.


mike from saline

Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 8:32 a.m.

All I'm Looking for [like most folks] is a fair fight. If you're going to have guidlines, enforce them across the board. It's been my observation that has there favorites, who are given far far more latitude in regards to "personel attacks," and "staying on topic."


Tue, Nov 9, 2010 : 6:27 a.m.

Thanks for the reply. You'll likely find the 'friends & groups' features a huge benefit; in ~4 years, there have very few significant issues at MW, the 'voting system' (of little use) is perhaps the most contentious. Perhaps Ms. Gardner is a member there and would have good feedback. Thanks again. Good luck.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 9 p.m.

Another idea, thanks to bunnyabbot's good thoughts: Have a way for commenters to communicate directly with one another. E.g., Marketwatch has their 'Community and Friends' feature whereby commenters can send email to each other, and to groups for that matter, all within the MW site. This feature dramatically enhances an otherwise average-to-mediocre site. Also, one of your weekend warrior moderators deleted another potentially useful comment...the story about homeless in the county...wherever the 'help wanted' ads are on this site, they are not prominent. From time to time, some of us have positions to offer, and it would be nice to post help wanted ads here, for especially deserving applicants. Are you outsourcing the weekend moderation to some land of 'uncreative yet highly rule driven' individuals? Hopefully not...


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 7:51 p.m.

obviously i agree about the screen names. when a teacher constantly posted on in a not so pleasant manner, i filed that name in my head. If one of my kids ever got this teacher, i would ask for a transfer to another teacher. right or wrong--it was my perception i got from their posts using their real name.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 3:34 p.m.

I agree with Bedrog and several others who have made similar comments. I have also had more than one of my posts removed summarily even though I often put a lot of thought and research into them. I go out of my way to stick to the topic, and, if indeed it strays due to another commentator's remarks, and one feels that the person who has started to take the different tack, has made a gross misstatement, it is more than fitting that such a poster be criticized especially if he/she is the one who has breached's guidelines to begin with and not the one who responds to same. In that case, if the one who takes on the first has his/her comments purged, this should also be the case for the remarks to which we are responding. Why let one go beyond your boundaries and leave the post of the one who was first to "blink," while de-publishing those of the one who commented on the former's post? That said, I also understand the often thanklessness of moderating a public forum such as appears on this dotcom. And, to be fair, when the blog editors have removed some of my remarks, they have also deleted those to which I took exception. That's usually only fair, and I am fine with that. I also agree, that--like most blogs--pseudonyms are absolutely necessary since most of us (by our real names) are easy to find in online or printed directories, and lest we desire to be besieged by hate mail, threatening phone calls, or worse, unwanted and unsolicited visits at our places of work and/or residence. Of course, those who are monomaniacal, egotistical, narcissistic seekers of constant attention and have made the decision to be out and about regarding their public personae, have to face the consequences of being taken to task in the public arena, something that usually also feeds their insatiable egos, anyway.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 11:08 a.m.

1. I agree with trespass and ricebrnr about the moderation. 2. regarding "screen names/fake names" if I couldn't use bunny and had to use my real name I would stop reading altogether, I am a business person and don't want some comment getting in the way. Frankly I think the linking to facebook pictures of some of the commenters scare me, some people should just not show their goofy pics to the world. 3. it would be nice if we could respond directly to a particular comment in a threaded way. 4. finally, as someone with an advertising budget, rates are too high and therefore I won't advertise with them. Your holiday rates were a joke. The cheapest rate got no exposure and the rate schedule between prices was too steep. You want more advertisers make your rates cheaper.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

cash...i agree with you on the fake name option...ive had plenty of stuff in my real name ( op eds in assorted places, letters to ed in the old ann arbor news etc.), and hate mail has often ensued along with my adversaries ( the main ones coming from a particular camp of monomaniacs on a particular international issue!) sometimes targeting me on their assorted hate blogs and often,quite amusingly actually, blaming others' posts against them on me, both on this site and elsewhere..which is flattering,really. Given that some of these folks have ties to some really bad actors,and are not above passing on their 'enemies lists' to them, the fake name option should absolutely remain.


Mon, Nov 8, 2010 : 6:59 a.m.

David Briegel, I agree about the multiple articles on the same subject...combine them or at least put them all together. It seems that when an article gets a lot of comment we can count on several more on the same subject quickly. The Shirvell/Armstrong story, the drunk driver ones, and heaven knows the Snyder ones. The goal I'm sure is to get more hits, thus more advertising, thus more money. But past the saturation point, it's such a turnoff. And I too have been disgusted with the selection of posts that are removed and the ones that are left. When several posts were posted only about ME personally, I clicked to ask for them to be removed....and they were left there. Granted my post that got the personal shot a me was about Snyder so does it depend on the side we take? And as for using real names, especially for females, that could send many of us away. There are people here who get very angry and nasty on some subjects. It's way to easy to locate people and their phone numbers today. Safety first.

David Briegel

Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 8:21 p.m.

I agree with most of what has been discussed and also wish to congratulate the promoted editors. One suggestion I would make would be to put all stories on the same thread instead of several threads on the same story. Many times a good discussion is going and a new thread of the same story occurs. That can be confusing while diffusing the comments and discussion. Updates could occur in the original story and noted in the thread. I would also like an answer to the question of why the News demanded names, addresses and phone numbers and now you allow annonymous posters? Sometimes I wish some of the evil posts would be left posted rather than deleted. An example would be the r____t posts regarding the NAACP awards banquet. As I pointed out, their complaint was about the "entitlement" mentality and the fact these kids would have to work and earn their own ways. These young people were being recognized and rewarded for their hard work and these gentlemen were perfect examples of that which these young people would have to overcome even now in our "modern" society. I think their comments should have been left up for ridicule! Especialy since they are anonymous!


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 6:53 p.m.

"Such a change might not be necessary if more strongly encouraged people to use their real names." Looking over the history of progressive thought, many radical (and good) ideas had to be initially proposed with pseudonyms. Requesting names is fine, demanding names reeks of fascism. "We don't like your comments. Your papers, please?" No thanks.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 6:50 p.m.

I'm sorry to see this. IMO, Stefanie was inconsistent, arbitrary, petty and egotistical in her old position. The comment moderation guidelines are haphazard and vague. needs an ombudsman to handle the problems with poor reporting practices and a community director who is interested in correcting the problems with comment moderation.

David Cahill

Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 4:53 p.m.

Congrats to Stephanie Murray! She has been very helpful. She even got my user photo posted when the system software wouldn't take it. I support a stricter moderation policy. Such a change might not be necessary if more strongly encouraged people to use their real names. I hope this is one of the changes that are coming in the future. Also, congrats to Jen Eyer, who broke the story about the library ramp.


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 4:51 p.m.

Ms. Murray - 1. Thank you for speaking. You have a challenging position; many would 'run out screaming' were they given a task such as yours. 2. Why no attribution when comments are removed? 3. Your standards may be vague if some comments are inappropriately pulled. 4. Just as everything to a child looks like a nail when given a hammer, some moderators appear trigger happy to delete comments just because they can. You likely know this; not sure of the best answer; maybe a policy of waiting a few minutes to delete borderline comments would be good...the pause for perspective, as it were. 5. You all may be on to something good here. Most blogs are relatively unmoderated; as frustrating as the moderators here are sometimes, it is with great curiosity that many are observing the evolution of your company's nearly unique moderation policy. Tweaking is clearly needed; wholesale changes, likely not. 6. You would likely do well to post proposed changes in advance, unlike so many other online entities which do not. 7. Again, thank you for your time and concern, and efforts. We are all still beginners and learners in this new medium. At the risk of sounding like you-know-who: good luck.


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 3:12 p.m.

This promotion announced, the next newly created position will be the "Rick Snyder Section" Editor.


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 3:06 p.m.

So. Two comments were removed just now. Though tangential to the article, it was extremely relevant to a comment. It was not offensive in any way; it was adulatory. Is it too much to ask why the comment was removed? Is it too much to ask who removed it? Is it too much to ask for some kind of attribution that a comment was removed? Many believe not.


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 2:37 p.m.

(Off topic adulatory comment about Edward removed.) :)


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 12:56 p.m.

Edward is correct on all counts.


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 12:05 p.m.

".....newly created position that will emphasize audience engagement with both news and advertising." and advertising combined in one job assignment? When I mentioned that this was happening a few months ago, I was strongly chastised. Now it seems to be an announced fact. The more the "news" becomes imbedded with advertisers and with opinion writers....and the lines are blurred, the more frightening it is. This is so sad for those of us who simply want to read the news.


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 12:01 p.m.

Congratulations, indeed. On a related note, there seems to be a common thread on the moderation policy. The # 1 reason exists is to make a profit; alienating commenters seems contrary to that goal. Hopefully you'll have a revised moderation policy shortly...


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

I am one who has caused moderators a share of angst and vice versa, but i have generally found, including stefanie murray, to be receptive to non-fevered off-line discussions of such, and i have always appreciated the difficulties the moderators have in juggling hard-news journalism with acting as referees in sandbox fights. One way of easing this conflict is to simply not print "articles" (even those disguised as "community events/ bulletin board items ") from those who clearly represent irresponsible/ hate groups, even when their self-descriptions/justifications are far more euphemistic and self congratulatory ( self deluded actually ) than facts clearly warrant. censorship?? perhaps! but in the spirit of justice oliver wendell holmes and his condemnation of giving a forum to those "wrongly crying fire in a crowded theater".


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 11:29 a.m.

Stefanie, congrats. You deserve high praise for dealing with all of us riff raff and rabble who are commentors.


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 11:20 a.m.

First, congrats to both of you! Secondly, I'm encouraged that is focusing on the interactive nature of the site. That being said, let's hope that you can focus on introducing readers to the breadth and talent that is offered here. It's a challenge, for sure, considering the scope of stories and blogs offered, but one definitely worth doing. Too many bloggers end up having their posts buried and difficult to find. I'm looking forward to the changes!


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

"In her new role, Murray will take the knowledge we've gained from monitoring our site traffic and watching what readers are responding to in real time and expand on it to better expose readers to the variety of news and advertising available each day." Don't journalistic organizations traditionally keep news and advertising functions (and personnel) distinct and separate? Seems combining the role of promoting both news and advertising in one position would make the individual in that position subject to pressure from advertisers to either push certain stories, or quell others. I'm sure Ms. Murray, being a graduate of a legit journalism program, is better-equipped than many to take on this dual role, but from an organizational perspective, why would want to risk the perception of advertisers influencing editorial decisions?


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 11:16 a.m.

Couldn't agree more (with basically everyone).

scooter dog

Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 10:12 a.m.

Does this mean your going to stop deleting comments on this blog for little or no reason? A A Dot com's reasons for deleting comments are about as one sided as they come. Some are allowed to say anything they please and others are in file 13 for childish reasons. If you want to see how a well run newspaper works go to any of the detroit newspapers and read what they allow their commenters to say.


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 10 a.m.

agree with trespass, very arbitrary moderation except for the obvious personal attacks. it's not clear if each writer moderates their own stories or if there are different moderator's on duty at given times. this often leads me to suspect the moderator's reasons for taking things down, especially in the education stories---doing favors and all that. that said, a promotion is a promotion, so congrats to ms. murray and ms. eyer.

dading dont delete me bro

Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 9:11 a.m.

hmmmm.......... interesting. i hope guidelines are fairly enforced.


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 8:14 a.m.

No offense, but who cares other than


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 8:07 a.m.

+1, want more reader engagement? Stop moderating capriciously and outside of your own guidelines. Second, follow up on your stories with answers to the obvious follow up questions we all expect a reporter to ask. Nothing irks the readers more than ignoring the elephants in the room, and then offering an excuse of "But that is all the information that was released/given to us". Follow your own rules and act like journalist or stop pretending to be and just call yourself a blog. "Ann Arbor News" as the title suggests requires more than regurgitation and bias.


Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 7:39 a.m.

If you want more engangement from commentors then you need to be less aribitrary and sometimes biased in enforcing the moderation policy. Don't remove comments just because they give specific information. Otherwise, comments can only contain opinion and not add information.

Kim Kachadoorian

Sun, Nov 7, 2010 : 6:35 a.m.

Congrats to you both!