Mike Pride, who proved a regional newspaper could work, dies aged 76

Mike Pride, who proved a regional newspaper could work, dies aged 76

Mike Pride, who turned the New Hampshire newspaper The Concord Monitor into an award-winning model of regional journalism, mentoring generations of reporters and editors, challenging the trope over the dying small-town newspaper, and having an outsized impact on his profession, died at 24. April at an asylum in Palm Harbor, Florida. He was 76 years old.

the cause was myelofibrosis, a rare type of blood cancer, said his son Dr. Yuri Pride.

As editor-in-chief of The Monitor from 1978 to 1983 and its editor until he retired in 2008, Mr. Pride won the 1987 National Press Foundation Editor of the Year award for overseeing the Monitor’s eloquent coverage of the death of a hometown heroine of hers, astronaut and teacher Christa McAuliffe, in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

And he presided over a newspaper that was considered a model of objective reporting – in contrast to the strident front-page editorials of his fellow New Hampshire newspaper, The Manchester Union Leader – and an unrivaled training ground in political reporting for young journalists every year. four years. , when the state, as the first to hold a presidential primary, emerges from relative obscurity to attract a scrum of candidates from both major parties and busloads of the national press.

In 2008, The Monitor’s Preston Gannaway won the Pulitzer Prize for photography for his intimate chronicle of a family dealing with a parent’s terminal illness. Under the leadership of Mr. Pride, the New England Newspaper & Press Association has named The Monitor New England Newspaper of the Year 19 times.

“We see ourselves as a local newspaper, deeply rooted in this community,” he told the American Journalism Review in 2003. “Even though we’re small, we don’t think that way.”

Daily newspaper sales belied its impact. Its circulation of about 22,000 was equal to half the population of Concord, which, like the state capital, fills with politicians, lobbyists and general clientelism when the Legislature is in session.

During the tenure of Mr. Pride, The Monitor covered the rise of David Souter, former New Hampshire attorney general, to the US Supreme Court; the indiscriminate release of patients from psychiatric hospitals without sufficient support in the communities to which they were being released; the efforts of the Roman Catholic diocese to protect priests accused of sexual abuse; and the appointment of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop.

Mr. Pride featured a diverse selection of community columnists and included a regular article on prison life written by an inmate serving a life sentence for murdering his ex-wife’s boyfriend. He invited local poets to newsroom lunches to encourage reporters to write more lyrically. Thanks to the support he received from the editors he worked with, the newsroom staff grew from 18 to 46.

Like any other newsroom, The Monitor’s was not nirvana. Mr. Pride could be rude and intimidating. And on the morning the Challenger exploded in 1986, he was in court over an overtime pay lawsuit in which The Monitor unsuccessfully argued that reporters should be treated not as hourly workers but as salaried professionals.

From 2014 to 2017, Mr. Pride acted as trustee of the Pulitzer Prizes; he was the first and only former Pulitzer judge and board member (he was co-chairman in 2008) to hold that position. He recruited a more diverse jury and opened the contests to online and print magazines.

“He taught us the power of words and how to wield them judiciously but fearlessly,” said Jo Becker, who worked at The Monitor and later became a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times.

“His ambitions for us were certainly beyond our actual abilities at that time,” she added. “But that was his gift. He believed in us and somehow made us believe that we were capable of reaching the high standard he set.”

Charles Michael Pride was born on July 31, 1946, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His father, Charles, had a variety of jobs, from selling cars to designing cemeteries. His mother, Bernadine (Nordstrom) Pride, was a county clerk and housewife. The family moved to Clearwater, Florida when Mike was 2 years old.

He earned his first subscription at age 14 after his cousin Ron Pride, a sports editor for The Tampa Tribune, recruited him to cover a high school track meet. After failing out of the University of Florida in 1966, Pride enlisted in the Army, learned Russian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and was posted to West Germany. There, he intercepted indications that the Soviet Union was about to invade Czechoslovakia – a intelligence coup that a skittish senior official shelved without urgently forwarding it.

After he was discharged, Mr. Pride was hired as a sports reporter at The Tribune. He worked nights, which allowed him to earn a bachelor’s degree during the day at the University of South Florida in 1972. After graduation, he was hired by The Clearwater Sun, where he eventually became city editor. He later got a job at The Tallahassee Democrat and was working as an editor there when he was recruited by the editor of The Monitor.

Mr. Pride has written hundreds of columns for The Monitor and other publications, including Brill’s Content magazine. He has written, co-written or edited eight books, including several on the Civil War and World War II.

In 1970 he married Monique Praet, who survived him. In addition to his son Yuri, he is also survived by two other children, Sven and Misha; six grandchildren; his brother Robin; and her sister, Pamela Pride.

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