Mike Pride, who proved that a regional newspaper could work, dies at age 76
Mike Pride, who transformed New Hampshire newspaper The Concord Monitor into an award-winning paragon of regional journalism, mentored generations of reporters and editors, defied the moribund small-town newspaper trope and made an inordinate impact on his profession, died at 24 April. in a hospice in Palm Harbor, Fla. He was 76.
The cause lay myelofibrosis, a rare form of blood cancer, said his son Dr. Yury Pride.
As editor-in-chief of The Monitor from 1978 to 1983 and editor until his retirement in 2008, Mr. Pride won the 1987 National Press Foundation’s Editor of the Year Award for overseeing The Monitor’s eloquent coverage of the death of a heroine from her hometown, the astronaut and teacher Christa McAuliffe, at the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.
And he was president of a newspaper that was considered a model of objective reporting—unlike the strident front-page editorials of his fellow New Hampshire paper, The Manchester Union Leader—and an unparalleled training ground in political reporting for young journalists. Every four years. , when the state, the first to hold a presidential primary, emerges from relative obscurity to draw 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 feature film photography for her intimate chronicle of a family coping with a parent’s terminal illness. Under Mr. Pride’s leadership, 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.”
The newspaper’s daily sales belied its impact. Its circulation of about 22,000 equaled half the population of Concord, which, as the state’s capital, teems with politicians, lobbyists and patronage in general when the legislature is in session.
During the tenure of Mr. Pride reported to The Monitor on the appointment of David Souter, a former New Hampshire attorney general, to the United States Supreme Court; the mass release of patients from psychiatric hospitals without adequate support in the communities to which they were discharged; 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. Introducing a rotating roster of community columnists, Pride featured a regular feature on prison life written by an inmate serving a life sentence for the murder of his ex-wife’s boyfriend. He invited local poets to luncheons at the newsroom to encourage reporters to write more lyrically. Thanks to the support he received from the publishers he worked for, the editorial staff grew from 18 to 46 at one point.
Like any other newsroom, The Monitor’s was not nirvana. Mr. Pride can be gruff and intimidating. And on the morning the Challenger blew up in 1986, he was in court for an overtime lawsuit in which The Monitor unsuccessfully argued that reporters should be treated not as hourly workers but as paid professionals.
From 2014 to 2017, Mr. Pride was the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes; he was the first and only former Pulitzer juror and board member (he served as co-chair 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 use them judiciously but without fear,” says 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 at the time certainly went beyond our actual capabilities,” she added. “But that was his gift. He believed in us and somehow made us believe that we were capable of living up to the high bar he set.
Charles Michael Pride was born on July 31, 1946 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His father, Charles, held a variety of jobs from selling cars to designing cemeteries. His mother, Bernadine (Nordstrom) Pride, was a town clerk and housewife. The family moved to Clearwater, Florida, when Mike was 2.
He got his first byline at age 14 after his cousin Ron Pride, a sports editor for The Tampa Tribune, recruited him to cover a high school track and field game. After leaving the University of Florida in 1966, Mr. Pride service in the military, learned Russian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and was deployed to West Germany. There he intercepted hints that the Soviet Union was about to invade Czechoslovakia – a coup d’état that a skittish senior officer brushed off without urgently reporting it.
After being fired, Mr. Pride was hired as a sports reporter at The Tribune. He worked nights, which enabled him to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida in 1972 during the day. After graduation, he was hired by The Clearwater Sun, eventually becoming city editor. He later took a job at The Tallahassee Democrat, working there as an editor when he was recruited by the publisher of The Monitor.
mr. Pride wrote hundreds of columns for The Monitor and other publications, including Brill’s Content magazine. He authored, co-wrote or edited eight books, including several on the Civil War and World War II.
In 1970 he married Monique Praet, who survives him. In addition to his son Yuri, he is also survived by two other sons, Sven and Misha; six grandchildren; his brother Robin; and his sister, Pamela Pride.