To our readers: Thank you, Mike Pride

By JONATHAN VAN FLEET

Monitor staff

Published: 05-07-2023 8:22 PM

Mike Pride, the former editor of the Concord Monitor who died on April 24 at the age of 76, touched the lives of millions of people both directly and indirectly.

Pride, who accomplished many things during his career, including authoring multiple books and becoming the administrator of the Pulitzer prizes, spent more than a quarter century embodying the highest journalistic standards from within a small newspaper in New Hampshire.

Some of the best journalists around the country started their careers in Concord and learned under Pride. Their work, consumed by readers across the country every day, is still influenced by their first boss who pushed them to be better writers and reporters, to strive for excellence in every story.

The single quote on the back of Tuesday’s Concord Monitor, in a full-page ad taken out by the Boston Globe, said it succinctly.

“It’s no exaggeration that American journalism is better thanks to Mike Pride,” wrote former Concord Monitor columnist Bob Hohler, who works as a sports investigative journalist at the Globe.

Pride was hired at the Monitor by George Wilson, the publisher and a member of the family that owned Newspapers of New England, the Monitor’s parent company. Pride got to work and built a paper that consistently punched above its weight, including winning the Pulitzer Prize for photojournalism in 2008, the only New Hampshire news organization to do so.

Pride left his inky fingerprints on American journalism in four ways, said Jane Harrigan, a former Concord Monitor managing editor in the 80s who taught journalism courses at the University of New Hampshire for 23 years.

The first was the most direct: the standards he set at the Monitor and the way he implemented what he called a conversation with the community.

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“No story was too small to make it worthy of being good,” Harrigan said.

The second was through the staff who worked here and found out quickly if they were cut out for journalism or if they preferred a job with a lot less pressure. They learned; their readers benefitted.

A common Pride attitude with staff went like this, “You got that down, now aim higher, do more,” Harrigan said.

The third is how other smaller news organizations in New England and eventually across the country took notice of the Monitor’s standards and began to reset and reach their own goals.

The fourth was how he was able to reinforce his concept of best practices in journalism when he was the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes.

But there’s a fifth way.

Those like Harrigan, who worked with Pride and went on to become college professors, taught generations of journalism students who were ultimately shaped by the same principles he espoused in his Concord newsroom.

I was one of those students.

I never worked directly for Pride, but Harrigan was my college adviser at UNH. She drilled in me the near-sacred belief that our job is to treat stories with great care.

You can meet someone on their best day or their worst day, but the job is to treat them fairly and tell their story accurately.

To put it in Harrigan’s terms, if no story is too small to be good, then what makes a story good?

The answer is in Pride’s lessons in this newsroom, which run parallel with the best practices of journalism and storytelling.

Show don’t tell.

Build trust with readers and sources.

Be fair and accurate.

Hold the powerful accountable.

Choose words that matter.

Harrigan, of course, has five words to summarize what makes a news story good: correct, complete, clear, concise, and compelling.

She worked with Pride and then taught me. Now it’s my job, with the help of a talented and tenacious group of people around me, to uphold the standards of this paper that he set so high.

This paper has been around a long time — 159 years to be exact. We like to say it’s the community’s paper and we are its stewards.

We do our jobs, including actually delivering the paper onto doorsteps, better some days than others.

We strive to publish, every day, what Pride stood for: the highest quality journalism that we can muster from this small daily newspaper.

We work to tell the stories of people and communities.

We work to uphold the legacy of this institution and illustrate the value of local journalism, which Pride believed in so fiercely.

From all of us at the Concord Monitor, from its past and current readers; its current and former employees; thank you Mike Pride.

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