After 40-year career, Phil Kincade reflects on changing media landscape

  • After 40 years in journalism, outgoing NHPA executive director Phil Kincade reflects on changing media landscape, future of NH journalism. Courtesy

Granite State News Collaborative
Published: 12/17/2021 4:42:14 PM

Phil Kincade knew since he was in the sixth grade that he wanted to be a journalist. He worked for his high school paper, and was editor of his summer camp newspaper.

After he got his journalism degree from Indiana University, he headed straight to Foster’s Daily Democrat in New Hampshire.

“I worked there for about 33 years, doing just about everything there is to do,” Kincade said.

Kincade covered county commissioner meetings, worked as a city hall beat reporter, covered the statehouse and served as the editorial page editor. Then, in 1995, having a hunch that the Internet would become a big deal, he threw himself into digital, helping the paper launch its first website, which became one of the first in the state.

Kincade remembers the first time he opened their website on Mosaic, one of the earliest web browsers.

“I said, ‘This is it, the world has changed. It’s never going to be the same again, and we need to be a part of it,” Kincade said.

The changes that have come since then have helped journalists tell stories in myriad ways, Kincade said, and he has embraced the new forms.

After Kincade retired from the Nashua Telegraph, where he spent five years after leaving Foster’s, a few former colleagues asked him to try to revive the New Hampshire Press Association. He agreed to take on the task. Part of what he sought to do during his tenure was create an inclusive association.

“I tried to make it a big tent,” he said. “Initially, the Press Association represented newspapers, that’s mostly who the members were. But you know, the landscape is so much different today than it was 20 or 30 years ago. We have to recognize and to realize that journalism is taking place on all forms of media – it’s newspapers, it’s magazine, it’s radio, it’s television, it’s websites, it’s podcasts, it’s everything.

“And so what we tried to do is to reach out, and to say, ‘Hey, if you are on the frontlines, doing good local journalism, we don’t care what you are, we share the same values,’” Kincade said.

Howard Altschiller, executive editor and general manager at Seacoast Media Group and the past president of the press association board, said Kincade traveled the state getting all kinds of media members on board - from large newspapers to single-person operations to digital-only outlets.

“It’s a really pretty vibrant group, and Phil really gets the credit for getting it back up and running and then for taking it to where it is now, which is a pretty effective organization,” Altschiller said.

Other than working to create a sustainable organization, Kincade said some of the work he’s done during his time leading the association has revolved around advocating for access to public documents and other government transparency issues, and making sure journalists have a voice in the state Legislature.

Kincade has also worked to create ties with journalism schools in the state to provide opportunities for journalism students.

A big part of the job was also reviving the journalism awards contest.

“That has been a great way to support good journalism in the state,” Kincade said. “And that’s especially true in today’s times, when so many of our organizations are dealing with staff reductions, very difficult financial times, working harder than they’ve ever worked before. To be recognized for their hard work is so important.”

As Kincade prepares to retire, the association has started a search for its next executive director.

NHPA Board President Brendan McQuaid, president and publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader, said Kincade was critical in revitalizing the organization.

“Phil will be impossible to replace, but it is our difficult duty to try so he can enjoy his well-deserved retirement,” McQuaid said.

“Our next executive director needs to have a passion for New Hampshire journalism and excellent communication skills,” he said.

McQuaid added that a press association helps connect members and protect their interests.

Altschiller said having a vibrant press association is important to both journalists and the state in general. The group allows journalists to share best practices and ideas, he said, and helps media organizations find ways to collaborate.

And bringing recognition to NH journalists for their work, through running the annual contest, will also be a big part of the job for the new executive director, Altschiller said.

Kincade said serving as the executive director of the Press Association has been a rewarding experience.

“There are so many really great journalists in this state,” he said. “I’m just very optimistic about the future of journalism in New Hampshire.”

Anyone interested in applying for the New Hampshire Press Association executive director job should contact McQuaid at

This article is being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative as well as members of the New Hampshire Press Association.

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