InDepthNH’s Writers Pick Up the Plaques at NH Press Assoc. Banquet, and Greet Old Friends

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Allegra Boverman photo's Paula Tracy receives the award for Investigative Reporting in our division from Brendan McQuaid, publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader and president of the NH Press Association's executive board.

Above,’s Beverly Stoddart receives a first-place plaque in the Arts and Entertainment category in the small news outlet division from Brendan McQuaid, publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader and president of the NH Press Association’s executive board at Thursday night’s banquet in Manchester. ALLEGRA BOVERMAN photo


MANCHESTER – reporters and columnists took home a bunch of plaques and certificates for their work Thursday night at the New Hampshire Press Association Awards banquet at Saint Anselm College’s Institute of Politics in Manchester.

Veteran reporter Paula Tracy took home first place for investigative reporting in our class 2 category for small news outlets; Beverly Stoddart took home a first-place plaque for her work bringing a “little class” with her writing about writers and people she finds interesting, her video interviews and zoom events; Michael Davidow won first place in the Best Column division for his work for us on Radio Free New Hampshire, and Damien Fisher took second place in the First Amendment category, not to mention other awards he received for work for other publications. was also especially proud of our newest contract reporter, Ani Freedman, who comes to us after earning her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia. She writes about some of the toughest stories a newcomer or veteran can do – those involving PFAs pollution and its aftermath, culture wars, and she has been working on an investigative project for a couple of months that isn’t ready yet.

Freedman represented last week at INN Days, a two-day event in SanDiego held by the Institute for Nonprofit News.

One of the best parts of the night (after hugging a slew of people I hadn’t seen since at least last year), was gathering with folks and others around the room we have known as friends and colleagues for decades and then some.

Above, some of the wonderful writers who make happen. From left, Damien Fisher, Arnie Alpert, Garry Rayno, Nancy West and Ani Freedman. West is holding Michael Davidow’s plaque for Best Column. Freedman is holding her Rookie of the Year award. ALLEGRA BOVERMAN photo.

At our table alone, we had three New Hampshire Press Association Lifetime Achievement Award winners from prior years – Garry Rayno, Paula Tracy and Nancy West. And Arnie Alpert who writes our Active with the Activists column as well as Garry’s wife Carolyn Rayno, our strongest champion, and Ani’s friend Christian DeFranco.

Alpert won an award last year for his column and continues to shine light where it is needed most in furthering our mission to give voice to marginalized people, places and ideas.

The Amazing Paula Tracy

Paula Tracy’s first place award for investigative reporting involved a story about an Eversource plan to dispose of land purchased but wasn’t needed after the Northern Pass project failed.

Northern Pass was supposed to bring hydro-power from Quebec through New Hampshire into Massachusetts. Millions of dollars were spent by Eversource to buy land for what they thought they would need as far as new property for high-voltage power lines.

An Eversource news release didn’t include many of the factual details and Paula Tracy learned that some of the individuals who sold land originally to Eversource were not offered it back either for free or provided the opportunity to buy it back.

After a great deal of old-fashioned gum shoe reporting, Paula Tracy, who formerly worked at the New Hampshire Union Leader and WMUR, was able to find out what had really happened and explain it to readers and more importantly to the original sellers who thought they had been denied what they were promised.

This took many interviews and trips to northern New Hampshire to find out what had really happened and fully explain the process. Paula Tracy did a great job as usual telling the public the truth.

The Awesome Beverly Stoddart, First Place Arts and Entertainment’s Beverly Stoddart is a writer, author, and speaker. After 42 years of working for newspapers, she left to write books and then came to her senses and joined’s team five years ago as a volunteer at the recommendation of North Country writer and newsman John Harrigan. Beverly’s newspaper career includes a decade in Florida at the Fort Myers News-Press where Gannett chose to test their new project, USA Today. From there, she spent eleven years at the Boston Herald coming in at the time Rupert Murdoch purchased the number two newspaper in a two-newspaper town. “We battled the Boston Globe when Murdoch was putting bathing beauties on page 3,” Stoddart said.

There, she successfully grew their market share in the valuable furniture advertising segment from nearly nonexistent to double-digit numbers. A buy-out of union membership allowed her to cut a long commute to minutes and a shift to another decade at the Nashua Telegraph where she grew their single-sheet flyer program into a success. Her last daily newspaper was staying for fourteen years at the New Hampshire Union Leader where she thrived in a dynamic real estate advertising market. Early retirement was too much to turn down and in 2019 she retired and heard from John Harrigan, another UL alumni, about the work at the nonpartisan, non-profit news site,, where she wrote as a contract worker and helped us build some sustainable sources of revenue. Today, she is a member of the Board of Directors. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project and is the author of Stories from the Rolodex, mini-memoirs of journalists from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. She is working on a self-published book, Who Will We Be to Each Other, that will come out in the fall of 2024. It will feature essays she has published on Her new psychological thriller, The Woman with a Hole in Her Heart, with co-author David Brower, will be published in 2025. 

Here are two stories by Beverly Stoddart: 

Rich Banichar – A Steelworkers Path to Poetry

Murder, Mennonites, and 5000 Dozen Eggs ala Rich Banichar

The love story: Carolyn and Garry Rayno. ALLEGRA BOVERMAN photo

The Inimitable Michael Davidow Columnist of the Year

First Place

Here’s Davidow’s column and the judge’s detailed comments.

Michael Davidow is a defense attorney who lives in Bedford with his wife and son. He also writes for a twice monthly column called Radio Free New Hampshire. He has written six novels and is currently finishing his seventh novel and is taking a brief hiatus from the column to wrap up the novel, but he promises to return soon.

Davidow writes Radio Free New Hampshire for He is also the author of Gate City, Split Thirty, and The Rocketdyne Commission, three novels about politics and advertising which, taken together, form The Henry Bell Project,  The Book of Order, and The Hunter of Talyashevka.. They are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Davidow’s Chanukah Land can be found here.

The judge’s comments: “Some people see a depth and scope in life that others can’t imagine. If we are lucky, those people are gifted writers willing to take us with them. Michael Davidow is one of those writers.

I’ve read a number of pieces in defense of Israel amid the fighting in Gaza. None have some close to matching the passion and reason that Davidow presents in ‘This year’s Chanukah column is different.’

The column begins with a remarkable summary lede:

‘In certain progressive, Democratic quarters, the lines between disliking Benjamin Netanyahu, disagreeing with the past decade of Israeli foreign policy, feeling hostility towards the idea of Israel itself, and hating Judaism have all been blurred, calling into question how solid those lines ever were.’

The column then lunges straight at bastions of progressive thinking, including the New York Times and Ivy League universities. Davidow offers tangible evidence of such institutions failing to come to the defense of Jews. There is no question of where he stands.

‘We know what will happen if Hamas remains in power; we know because they have told us. They have promised to keep killing as many Jews as possible, until there are no more Jews left. I see no reason to disbelieve them.

‘A ceasefire in Gaza would therefore be optimal – so long as that ceasefire is accompanied by a return of all hostages to Israel without conditions, and by Hamas surrendering all civil control. These terrorists need to leave their tunnels, give their stolen fuel and food to their fellow Gazans, and surrender to justice. When that happens, the fighting should stop.’

He acknowledges that his arguments are unlikely to change minds. Only time will close the chasm, he says. He closes with one more disturbing assessment.

‘The Jews make up the only nation in the world that is ordered to be complicit in its own destruction, and deemed even more worthy of death, for failing to agree.’

This is a lament of biblical proportions. The anguish expressed is authentic, palpable. Agree or disagree, you will remember what was said here.”

Above, Ani Freedman is pictured receiving the Rookie of the Year Award from Brendan McQuaid, publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader and president of the New Hampshire Press Association’s executive board. ALLEGRA BOVERMAN photo

The Unrivaled Ani Freedman, Rookie of the Year

Ani Freedman has a passion for environmental, health, and accountability reporting. In her free time, she’s an avid runner and running coach. 

“To be a part of the incredible community of journalists in New Hampshire is truly something special,” Freedman said, “but to be recognized as a meaningful member of that community through the Rookie of the Year award means so much to me.

“I’ve grown to appreciate how unique New Hampshire is as I’ve gotten to know so many people, and I’m grateful to everyone who has bravely told me their stories. Thank you to the people who have welcomed me to New Hampshire and allowed me to do what I love,” Freedman said.

The judge’s comments: “An impressive collection of articles, all but one exploring the long-running contamination of drinking water with ‘forever chemicals’ by a company in Merrimack. What comes through loud and clear is Ani has invested the time to research her topic, infusing her stories with context and depth that goes far beyond the day-to-day he said/she said on this issue. The same can be said for her story exploring New Hampshire’s place in today’s LGBTQ+ culture wars.”

Christian DeFranco and Ani Freedman are pictured Thursday at the NH Press Association Awards Banquet. Behind them are Paula Tracy, Mark Guerringue and Carolyn Rayno. ALLEGRA BOVERMAN photo

The Consummate Damien Fisher, second place in First Amendment category

More than three and a half years ago, Reporter Damien Fisher received a tip that current Republican state Rep. Jonathan Stone was once a New Hampshire law enforcement officer who had threatened to kill fellow police officers in a shooting spree and threatened to murder his chief after raping the chief’s wife and children, all while he was already under scrutiny for his inappropriate relationship with a teen girl.

The internal investigation reports were not made available to Fisher, so he had to start with a right-to-know request. Stone, a twice-elected Republican state representative for Claremont, fought in court to keep those reports secret. Fisher persisted. Finally, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that Stone could not block the release of those records in response to Fisher’s 2020 right-to-know request, ending years of legal challenges.

First off, the one attribute you need to know about Damien Fisher is that he’s never shied away from a controversial subject or story.

The judge’s comments: “These entries certainly demonstrate the ‘dogged digging’ of Damien Fisher. This is outstanding journalism utilizing the tools that preserve the values and spirit of the First Amendment.”

It was a full house Thursday night at the New Hampshire Press Association Awards Banquet at Saint Anselm College’s Institute of Politics in Manchester. ALLEGRA BOVERMAN photo

You can see all the winners in every category here:

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