Notre Dame alum and journalist covers state and politics for Michigan’s largest digital media company.
(Updated Jan. 7, 2017)
You would think a very shy teenager might not pursue a career that requires talking to a lot of people—particularly political people—on a daily basis. But for Shannon Murphy, who graduated Notre Dame in 1998, her career and love of journalism forced her out of her shell.
“Surprisingly for someone in my business, I was pretty shy growing up,” said Murphy. “But interviewing people helped bring me out of my shell, especially at Michigan State, where you could easily get lost with the thousands of people there. And, you definitely have to love learning a little bit about everything, and sharing that knowledge with others to be successful in my field.”
Murphy’s “field” is journalism, and she’s been sharing her skills as an interviewer, writer and editor with Michigan residents since graduating from MSU with a degree in journalism in 2002. She now works for MLive, a digital-media company that owns numerous local newspapers and operates MLive.com, a web-based news site serving readers and businesses in Michigan. She currently serves as news leader and managing producer/community engagement specialist at MLive and, as part of her job, she helps manage and direct coverage for digital newsrooms in Lansing and Detroit, working with a reporting and photography staff of 11 who cover the state Capitol, statewide issues, the automotive industry and Detroit police, among other beats.
Reading and writing and community engagement
Murphy’s career in the news media actually began in college where she worked at the student-run newspaper, “The State News.” Since college, she’s worked at six newspapers, covering everything from crime in Flint, to government in Bay City, to hosting community events in Saginaw, before hooking up with MLive, which is headquartered in Grand Rapids.
So, besides looking for a way out of her shell, what else drove Murphy to work as a journalist?
“I’ve always loved writing and reading, which I think helped guide me to the career path I’m on today,” she said. “Writing anything, from a term paper to a short story, came fairly naturally and I enjoyed doing it. Being able to write full time about issues that mattered seemed like a no-brainer.”
Murphy has moved quickly through the ranks since joining MLive.
“I’ve spent most of my career with Mlive, starting as a reporter, then to community engagement specialist, where I handled all social media, community engagement and editorials, and finally to my current job as managing producer, which is akin to being an assistant editor on more traditional media, such as newspapers and magazines.”
But she loves the relatively new digital media landscape. “In the past decade, I’ve picked up more skills that have helped me in my career—it’s a very digital world now and knowing the ins and outs of new technology, whether via smartphones, new apps or social media, has become an integral part of my job.”
Notre Dame whistles
Even though Murphy’s been out of Notre Dame Prep for quite a few years, she keeps certain high school memories front and center.
“When I think of high school, one of the first memories that comes to mind is Irish Week—it was always such a fun and bonding week for our class,” she said. “And I don’t think I’ll ever forget Fr. Leon’s famous whistle cheer and, of course, Mike Burkhart’s hilarious impersonation of it!”
She also cites Notre Dame for giving her the skills necessary for life and for work.
“NDP helped instill leadership and a love to learn new things,” Murphy said. “And I had so many favorite teachers there. Mrs. Bembas made English and writing interesting and pushed us to do our best, Mr. Borton, even though math was not my strong point, had such patience with us to help us get to where we needed to be in class.”
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.