Monitor wins 10 first-place NH journalism awards, including reporter and photographer of the year

Reporter Michaela Towfighi and photo editor Geoff Forester pose with their awards for Journalist of the Year and Photographer of the Year at the annual New Hampshire Press Association awards.

Reporter Michaela Towfighi and photo editor Geoff Forester pose with their awards for Journalist of the Year and Photographer of the Year at the annual New Hampshire Press Association awards. Allegra Boverman—New Hampshire Press Association

Misha Pride speaks about his later father Mike Pride's impact on journalism and love for his family at the New Hampshire Press Association annual awards last week at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Misha Pride speaks about his later father Mike Pride's impact on journalism and love for his family at the New Hampshire Press Association annual awards last week at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. Allegra Boverman—New Hampshire Press Association

By JONATHAN VAN FLEET

Monitor staff

Published: 06-23-2024 5:07 PM

Modified: 06-23-2024 7:28 PM


The Concord Monitor and its staff won 10 first-place awards, including Journalist of the Year and Photographer of the Year from the New Hampshire Press Association.

Reporter Michaela Towfighi, who covers a unique beat called “Two New Hampshires” that focuses on equality, diversity and disparity, was named the New Hampshire Journalist of the Year.

“Towfighi 's reporting is what all editors want: crisp, clear writing in a narrative style that gets to the heart of crucial issues,” the judges wrote. “Her reporting is exhaustive, she ties all the pieces together in a coherent story with almost no loose ends, and provides readers with an understanding of the issues that help them form educated opinions, all done with a compassionate treatment of the people she's covering.”

Photo Editor Geoff Forester was named Photographer of the Year, an award he has previously won.

“Eclectic mix of images displaying all the skills of a seasoned veteran photo-journalist,” the judges wrote.

In addition, Monitor reporter Sruthi Gopalakrishnan won first place for investigative story or series for her examination into allegations that Concord Casino owner used COVID relief funds for personal gain; environmental reporting for her series “Landfill Landscape,” probing the state’s growing solid waste woes, and business reporting for giving readers a deeper look into Sanborn’s various business ventures across the state.

The judges hailed Landfill Landscape, in part because the topic was chosen by Monitor readers.

“A project fueled by audience interest and concern, with robust, thorough journalism delivering a deep accounting of watchdog journalism,” the judges wrote. “On-site examples show how the state struggles to monitor landfills, and how waste management companies lobby for their interests. This project marks a virtuous circle of newsroom-audience interaction from which all are better informed, and better prepared to address issues in this important environmental realm.

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Towfighi, who is entering her third year working at the Monitor through a partnership with the non-profit organization Report for America, won first place for government reporting for a series of stories probing the state’s juvenile justice system.

“The runaway winner in this category,” the judges wrote. “A master class in how to dissect one of the biggest issues facing the state in a series of articles rich with personal experiences and light on talking heads. With the controversy surrounding abuse at the Sununu center, this 4-part series was well-timed and highly illuminating.”

Towfighi and former Monitor reporter Jamie Costa won first place for feature reporting for a series of stories called “Portraits in Diversity.”

“Every Monitor reader should be proud of their newspaper and its staff for developing such an inspiring and exceptionally scripted series of features. Along with a good application of info-graphics and photography – each captures the unique essence of their subject, enough necessary backstory to flesh out why they arrived in America (and in New Hampshire), and why they now feel part of the communities they call their new home. This is what award-winning feature writing is all about.”

Costa won first place for crime and court reporting for a profile of Fabiana McLeod, who was sexually abused by former Concord teacher Howie Leung, and the changes made by the Concord School District since Leung’s arrest in 2019.

Forester won first and third place for sports photos.

Monitor sports reporters Eric Rynston-Lobel and Dan Attorri won for best use of audio or podcast. 

“Terrific local sports podcast, especially at a time when sports coverage in newspapers – especially in N.H. – is dwindling,” the judges wrote. “Covered a wide range of topics and kept it interesting and informative.”

The Monitor also won second place for a Community Service Award for its annual Impact Report and second place for General Excellence.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our staff and the dedication they bring to the job every day,” said Monitor Publisher Steve Leone. “We have an especially strong reporting staff, and we're really excited to be adding two additional news reporters this summer.”

The awards ceremony, held Thursday at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, included a special tribute to longtime Monitor Editor Mike Pride, who died in 2023 at the age of 76. Pride’s wife Monique, two of his three sons, Sven and Misha, and their family were present to accept the honors.