BIDDEFORD — The Journal Tribune has announced the appointment of seasoned news veteran Ed Pierce as its new executive editor.

Pierce, 62, comes from the former Laconia, New Hampshire-based newspaper, The Citizen, which shuttered its doors on Sept. 30.

Pierce began his 41-year career in 1975 with United Press International, where he covered sports and celebrity news. His first interview as a professional correspondent was with Muhammad Ali following his defeat of Ron Lyle in Las Vegas. The story ran on thousands of front pages across the nation.

Also at UPI, he interviewed late President Ronald Reagan (before he was president), late singer and actor David Bowie and actor William Shatner.

Following his time at UPI, Pierce became a military journalist for the U.S. Air Force, spending two years at the paper Stars & Stripes in Darmstadt, Germany; two years writing press releases for the Pentagon; and four years as the editor of a 32- page weekly paper at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona.

Pierce obtained his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of New Mexico in 1988, and was hired as a general assignment reporter for the Albuquerque Journal in Albuquerque, New Mexico the same year.

Pierce said his interest in journalism was first sparked by the late New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

In 1966, Pierce entered a League of Women Voters essay contest calling for pieces about citizenship and patriotism. He wrote about his father and his father’s friends, who upon graduating high school, were drafted into World War II and sent to the Battle of Anzio in Italy in 1944.

The friends all survived, and Pierce’s father went on to become a mechanical engineer. Pierce said hearing his father’s story taught him about the importance of people’s contributions to society.

Pierce won the competition, besting 3,500 other contestants, and read the piece before Kennedy, who encouraged him to consider journalism because of his ability to move people emotionally.

Telling a story similar to his father’s, Pierce said his proudest work came in 2014, when he profiled George Nichols, a 90-year-old veteran who also served at the Battle of Anzio. Nichols was wounded while transporting soldiers for medical treatment and promised a Purple Heart for his service.

Nichols was never granted the honor, and went through several appeals in attempts to get what he deserved. Pierce wrote Nichols’ story and was later called by John W. Henry, owner of the Boston Globe, where Pierce’s story also appeared.

Henry, who is also the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, invited Nichols to throw the first pitch at a baseball game at Fenway Park’s Armed Forces Day. It wasn’t the Purple Heart, but an honor nevertheless.

“I felt like I was doing something for my father,” said Pierce on writing the story.

In his new position as executive editor, Pierce said he wants to serve readers, first and foremost.

“My focus is community, community, community,” Pierce said. “You have to find your niche in the community, and I’m all about telling those stories about people who live here in the community we serve. And if you do it the right way, you’re never going to wear out your welcome.”

“In New England, we have a tough task ahead of us,” Pierce added, noting that communities are comprised of more than just crime and politics. “Mills are closing, the economy is changing, but the one thing that hasn’t changed, that remains constant through the years, is the people that live here.”

Pierce will remain committed to strong journalistic standards of objectivity, and wants to see the Journal Tribune continue to act as a watchdog for government and as a moral compass for the community.

“A newspaper shouldn’t be afraid to tackle issues affecting the community,” he said.

Pierce said he wants to implement a number of digital initiatives to help grow the paper’s audience and expand its reach. Specifically, he wants to target those between the ages of 20 and 40, whom he said aren’t the typical audience for print readership.

Devin Hamilton, publisher of the Journal Tribune, praised Pierce’s experience, saying he is a welcome addition to the county’s only daily newspaper.

“Ed brings a wealth of experience in leading a news organization to York County,” Hamilton said. “His style of community-focused journalism and leading by example will serve this staff and community well.”

Pierce currently lives in Laconia, New Hampshire with his wife Nancy, and plans on moving to this area in the spring. He is the stepfather to three adult sons.

“I’m happy to be here,” Pierce said. “One thing that hasn’t changed since the day I started: great storytelling sells newspapers.”

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: