‘Monitor’ reporting wins top honors for investigative and solutions journalism, plus crime reporting

  • Holly Fenn greets retired New Hampshire Supreme Court justice John Broderick before their mental health presentation at Windham High School on Wednesday night, October 2018. Fenn was handing out materials from her Reach1, Teach1, Love1 Foundation as people were arriving. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Martha Dickey greets New Hamphsire Governor Chris Sununu along with her husband Paul (center) and Holly Fenn on Friday, August 2, 2019 as the governor gets ready to sign SB 282 in the Executive Councilors chambers at the State House. The bill will mandate that schools provide training on recognizing the warning signs for suicide and prevention. The Dickeys lost their Jason to suicide in 2017 and Fenn lost her son Dalton to suicide in 2009. GEOFF FORESTER

Published: 2/11/2020 4:05:31 PM

A series of stories by the Monitor staff on youth suicide prevention and another on domestic violence won first place awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association.

In addition, the newspaper’s ongoing coverage of the Concord School District’s response to the arrest of former teacher Howie Leung on charges of sexually assaulting a former student won first prize for investigative journalism.

The five-day series on suicide prevention, called Finding Hope, won first place for “Best Solutions Journalism Project” among all New England daily newspapers, regardless of circulation size.

The series, written by Leah Willingham with photographs by Geoff Forester, was published at the end of 2018 following the deaths of several area teenagers. The Monitor held a live forum at Concord High School, which included parents, survivors, advocates and mental health professionals.

The judges of the New England Better Newspaper Competition called the project “brilliant” because it gave a clear call to action, it conveyed the complexities of raw emotion, and it made the people and the issue “connectable” to its audience.

The Union Leader’s “Beyond the Stigma” series won second place in the category.

The Monitor’s four-day series on domestic violence in New Hampshire called Fighting Back won first place in the Crime and Courts Reporting category for newspapers with a circulation of less than 20,000. The series, written by Alyssa Dandrea, culminated with a live public forum at the Woman’s Club of Concord, which sponsored the project.

“Excellent comprehensive series on the prevalence of domestic violence in the state of New Hampshire,” the judges wrote. “This series, supported by startling statistics, explores the complexity of this crime. The deep personal stories of the victims are riveting. Exceptional reporting and writing. Bravo.”

The Union Leader won first place for its stories on the Bear Brook murders in the same category for newspapers with a circulation of more than 20,000.

Reporter David Brooks, also known as the Granite Geek, received second place among all New England newspapers for Community/Audience Involvement for his weekly science column, blog, newsletter and monthly science cafe dinners.

“The Granite Geek lives up to his name traversing New Hampshire for lofty topics not seen in many newspapers,” the judges wrote.

The Monitor’s ongoing coverage of the Concord School District’s response to allegations that a teacher had inappropriate relationships with female students was hailed as a “superb example of in-depth investigative reporting that holds the powerful accountable and results in significant change.”

The Monitor also received second place for General Excellence in its circulation category.

“The Monitor’s news staff continues to deliver impressive and important in depth reporting as it holds itself to a standard of strong daily reporting and quality writing,” the judges wrote.

The Berkshire Eagle of Pittsfield, Mass., won first place for General Excellence, while the Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, Mass., won third place.

The newspaper also took third place for Digital Strategy Excellence. In all, the Monitor won three first-place award, two second-place honors and one for third.

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