Shannon McDonald Joins Billy Penn as Community Manager

Aug. 7, 2014

By Chris Krewson

Photo by Kimberly Paynter JIM BRADY is the CEO of Stomping Ground, a mobile-focused local news startup that will launch its first site, BillyPenn, in Philadelphia this fall. Jim is the former Editor-in-Chief of Digital First Media, where he oversaw the 75 daily newspapers, 292 non-daily publications and 341 online sites that are owned by Journal Register Company and MediaNews Group. He also oversaw the launch of Project Thunderdome, which redefined how DFM produces journalism by centralizing the production of non-local content so that local papers can focus on their local communities.  Before joining JRC, Jim served as general manager of TBD, a new local news operation dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the Washington, D.C. region that combined the values of traditional journalism and the power of citizen journalism. He joined TBD after more than four years as executive editor of, where he led the site to numerous awards and accolades. As general manager of TBD, he was responsible for the business operations and editorial oversight of both and TBD TV, a 24-hour local cable news station. On both platforms, TBD’s original journalism is supplemented with strong partnerships with other local news organizations and more than 175 area bloggers. TBD has quickly gained a reputation for innovative ways of covering local news, and gained high marks for its commitment to social media and engaging with its community in meaningful ways. TBD has also displayed a strong commitment to mobile, with highly regarded applications for the iPhone and Droid.  During Jim’s tenure as executive editor of, the site won a national Emmy award for its Hurricane Katrina coverage, a Peabody Award for its “Being a Black Man” series, an Editor & Publisher award for Best Overall Newspaper-Affiliated Web Site, two Digital Edge awards for Best Overall News Site, a Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism, two Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Awards, four Edward R. Murrow Awards for Best Non-Broadcast Affiliated Web Site, and more than 100 White House News Photographers video awards. He also served as sports editor and assistant managing editor for news at from 1995 to 1999.  In between his stints at, he spent more than four years at America Online, serving as Group Programming Director, News & Sports; Executive Director, Editorial Operations; and Vice President, Production & Operations. During his time at AOL, Brady was in charge of the service’s coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2000 presidential election.  Brady earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Print Journalism from The American University in 1989. Born in Queens, N.Y. and raised in Huntington, N.Y., he now lives with his wife, Joan, in Great Falls, Va.

Photo by Kimberly Paynter

Community has always been a big part of our plan for Billy Penn. So the first editorial role we decided to fill was that of a Community Manager.

We needed someone who’d help us build a social presence — on digital platforms, and in real life. This great journalist would also have built new products and managed social platforms. So I’m elated to announce that Shannon McDonald has accepted that key role, and will start as Billy Penn’s inaugural Community Manager on Aug. 18.

Shannon, who’s currently the Social Media Strategist for WHYY’s NewsWorks, is a Philadelphia native with deep experience as a social journalist in the city. In addition to her work on NewsWorks’ social platforms, she’s also worked as project manager — founding the popular Philly QuizWorks app — as well as serving as a blogger and aggregator. A Temple graduate and adjunct professor, she also founded NEast Philly, a daily hyperlocal news site for her community, in 2008.

But besides all that, she’s a collaborator with a keen interest in making the city a better place through journalism. We couldn’t be more excited for her to join the team.

“I believe in Philadelphia, and I feel as if I’m watching it grow up right now,” McDonald said. “Every single Philadelphian is experiencing this city in a different way, and I think Billy Penn can help shine a light on those experiences and connect different communities across the city.”

We welcome Shannon to Billy Penn.

–Chris Krewson

Editor, Billy Penn

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