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'He really viewed the Monitor as the community's paper.' Remembering former NH journalist Mike Pride

Concord Monitor editor Mike Pride leads an editorial board interview with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Concord Monitor
/
File photo
Concord Monitor editor Mike Pride leads an editorial board interview with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Mike Pride, the former editor of the Concord Monitor, died Monday at age 76.

Over his decades leading the paper, he steered generations of journalists through stories of national resonance, including presidential primaries and the 1986 Challenger explosion, which killed Concord teacher Christa McAuliffe. But he also shaped the Monitor into a beacon of community journalism and platform for stories that helped people across New Hampshire better understand their neighbors.

After retiring from the Monitor, Pride also served for several years as the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, considered among the journalism industry's highest honors. According to the Associated Press, he "was the only person to serve as a juror, board member, board co-chair and administrator for the Pulitzers."

Meg Heckman is a former Concord Monitor reporter and editor. She's now an assistant professor at Northeastern University's School of Journalism and Media Innovation in Boston. She joined NHPR’s Rick Ganley to reflect on the legacy Pride leaves behind.


Transcript

So many people who worked with Mike at the Monitor talked about the influence he's had on training generations of young journalists who can now be found in newsrooms across the country, including The New York Times, ProPublica, in this newsroom right here in Concord, NHPR. What legacy of mentorship does he leave behind?

Mike's mentorship has had a ripple effect in the way that it's influenced not just journalism, but also civic life and community life here in New Hampshire and beyond. Many of us who worked for Mike did stay in journalism, and a lot of people who worked for Mike went on to other fields where they're having deep impacts in politics, corporate communications, community organizing, other aspects of civic life. And I think that sense of community and belonging and service really stems from a lot of the culture that Mike created at the Monitor.

He seemed to prioritize community engagement in the paper in different ways. For example, I read that he printed columns on state prison life written by a person serving a life sentence for murder. What stands out when you think about Mike's approach to local journalism and community at large?

You know, there's a saying that good local journalism should be a conversation with the community, and Mike really embodied that in the way that he managed the Concord Monitor and its newsroom. He really viewed the Monitor as the community's paper. And the example that you just gave about making space for contributors from a wide variety of backgrounds is a really great example of that. And I know in my own work, that idea of constantly conversing with the community and the audience has definitely informed my evolution as a journalist, particularly as we've moved more into digital spaces and social media spaces. And so I think that in some ways that idea of having the constant conversation with the community was a harbinger of some of the strengths of our modern media ecosystem.

Mike's obituary in the Concord Monitor makes this observation: "The health challenges of his last years mirrored the struggles of newspapers hollowed by the disruption of the Internet. Pride lamented the results, particularly the consequences for local journalism." What was Mike worried about losing?

The type of local newsroom that the Concord Monitor was when I arrived in 2002 doesn't really exist anymore, in aggregate, because of the many digital disruptions to publishing and, frankly, because of the absolutely atrocious way that hedge funds have gutted local newsrooms and news organizations in ways that have diminished audience trust, have diminished engagement in civic life, and have made it much more difficult for young journalists to get their start in this field. All of that said, there's a lot of really creative efforts going on right now to continue that local news energy, but it's not organized around a traditional print newsroom anymore, and that creates challenges. It also may breed some opportunities and an opportunity for us to reflect on how to do local news better. But it definitely brings up some challenges, and I think that was a lot of what Mike was worried about.

You can read the Concord Monitor's full obituary for its former editor, Mike Pride, here.

For many radio listeners throughout New Hampshire, Rick Ganley is the first voice they hear each weekday morning, bringing them up to speed on news developments overnight and starting their day off with the latest information.
Jackie Harris is the Morning Edition Producer at NHPR. She first joined NHPR in 2021 as the Morning Edition Fellow.

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