Prolific and reliable – Monitor’s David Brooks inducted into New England Journalism Hall of Fame

The New England Journalism Hall of Fame inductees included David Brooks, right; Melvin B. Miller of The Bay State Banner; Frank Dingley of the Lewiston Sun Journal, whose posthumous recognition was accepted by Steve Collins; and George Brennan of the Martha’s Vineyard Times.

The New England Journalism Hall of Fame inductees included David Brooks, right; Melvin B. Miller of The Bay State Banner; Frank Dingley of the Lewiston Sun Journal, whose posthumous recognition was accepted by Steve Collins; and George Brennan of the Martha’s Vineyard Times. —Courtesy

David Brooks was inducted into the New England Journalism Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Waltham, Mass. on March 22.

David Brooks was inducted into the New England Journalism Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Waltham, Mass. on March 22. Jonathan Van Fleet—Monitor staff

By JONATHAN VAN FLEET

Monitor editor

Published: 04-01-2024 11:08 AM

David Brooks hoped they’d make a bobblehead in his honor at the New England Journalism Hall of Fame dinner.

He was joking, of course.

Many serious things define Brooks – a stalwart among the state’s trusted press corps – mathematics, accuracy, reliability. But other things make him stand out among his colleagues, notably, his sense of humor and his reliability.

Known by many of his fans as the Granite Geek, he was chosen by a board at the New England Newspaper & Press Association to be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with three other deserving news mavens.

“He reports the news, but he also explains it in a way that’s informative and interesting,” Monitor Publisher Steve Leone said, introducing Brooks at the Hall of Fame ceremony on March 22. “I know there are plenty of times when I edit his stories because it’s part of my job, but I’m also reading them because I want to learn something new.”

In the newsroom, Brooks crunches away on loud food, like celery stalks, saltine crackers and carrots. From time to time he shares berries and green beans that he grows in his yard. He conducts his interviews from his homemade standing desk for all to hear.

He attended Bates College in Maine, got a degree in math, and moved back to Virginia to forge a career in whatever field interested him most.

Following the Woodward and Bernstein’s investigation into President Richard Nixon, journalism seemed a good choice. He worked in Virginia and Tennessee before driving north while looking for a job by walking into newsrooms and introducing himself without invitation. As he continued north, he landed in New Hampshire. He worked at the Nashua Telegraph for 28 years before taking a job at the Monitor in 2015.

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Credit the Granite State for giving birth to this geeky icon.

He and his wife, Shelly, raised their two children here and recently became grandparents. Like any good colleague, he shares cute baby pictures via newsroom chats and then apologizes to the other reporters who are younger than his kids.

They don’t mind, because being around him makes other journalists better. His loyal readers already know what a treasure he is.

“David continues to use imaginative ways to illustrate complex stories. His spirit of innovation continues to drive him,” Leone wrote in his nomination of Brooks to the New England Newspaper and Press Association. “But I suspect his greatest motivation comes from the readers he has long served because he knows how much they rely on his journalism.”

Brooks was grateful to receive the Hall of Fame honor but taken aback by being singled out for praise. Delivering the news has always been a team effort between the newsroom, the advertising department that fills the pages with notices from local businesses, the press crew that prints the pages, the brains that make the computers and website work, and the circulation managers and drivers who make sure the paper gets delivered each day.

If you receive a call from Brooks – like the loyal Monitor readers who were upset when the newspaper’s crossword puzzle changed and the clues became too modern and obscure for them – be prepared that you’re in for a quiz. He wants to know what’s on your mind. If you are a government official hoping to pull the wool over his eyes, you’ll learn quickly that he’s already seen it all and your attempts at subterfuge are futile.

If you haven’t met him at one of his Science Cafes, where politics and powerpoints are strictly banned, and only read his stories online or in the paper, know that he treats each story with a combination of skill and curiosity seldom found among journalists.

“I’m thankful to NENPA for this honor and to the Monitor for giving me a home for almost a decade. But I must say that the thing I’m really thankful for is being a reporter,” said Brooks, who said he has no plans to retire. “After all, I get paid to badger complete strangers about things that interest me! It’s a blast and apparently readers, at least some of them, have a blast too.”

Having worked in the news business for nearly four decades, Brooks has seen its heyday of power and its decline in numbers. He stayed the course and wrote thousands of stories that caught the interest of readers, including his weekly science columns.

We are lucky to have read his words and we remain lucky still. He’s sticking with it and that’s good news for all of us.

“Newspapers are struggling as a business these days, but I’m more optimistic about the field than I used to be. Non-traditional publications, non-profit support and organizations like Report for America are boosting supply while worries about the decline of local journalism boost demand,” he said. “It seems that there will continue to be places for other people to have as much fun in their job as I have.”

Over the past 20 years, more than 100 outstanding newspaper professionals from throughout our six-state region have been named to the Hall of Fame for their extraordinary contributions to the news industry and their communities.

The other inductees along with Brooks were: George Brennan of the Martha’s Vineyard Times, Melvin B. Miller of The Bay State Banner, and Frank Dingley of the Lewiston Sun Journal, who was recognized posthumously.