Friday, May 15, 2020

Introducing new managing editor: Ed Pierce to take the reins next week

Ed Pierce is the new Managing Editor of
The Windham Eagle with the May 22 edition.
By Lorraine Glowczak

It was 45 years ago when Ed Pierce launched his professional career in journalism, beginning with the United Press International wire service as a reporter in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

From there, he has landed in many other professional reporter and editorial positions around the U.S. that include more than 13 publications. His latest position was as Executive Editor of The Journal Tribune in Biddeford. In 2019 he decided to retire. However, Pierce discovered that retirement did not suit his personality.

“There are only so many things you can do on your wife’s ‘to-do’ list,” Pierce said. “I was starting to miss being a part of a community and to report on important stories that matter.”

Reporting on and writing stories have come to Pierce naturally but his initial goal during his early teens was to be a basketball coach at Syracuse University near the town where he grew up. But it was a writing contest he entered in October 1966, sponsored by the League of Women Voters.“My junior high school English and Social Studies teachers encouraged me to enter the 1,000 word-essay,” Pierce said. “The subject required was citizenship and patriotism.”  

Out of 3,500 essays submitted around the U.S., Pierce won first place. This earned him and his father an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. to present and read his winning essay to his U.S. Senator – who happened to be Bobby Kennedy.

“When I was finished presenting my essay to Bobby Kennedy, he asked me what I wanted to do with my life,” Pierce said. “I told him about my thoughts on becoming a coach. He then said to me, ‘Someone who writes like you should consider a career in journalism. As a politician he could propose and enact all the laws imaginable. But the one thing I can’t do as a politician that a journalist can do is to move people emotionally and make a difference in our society.”

Obviously, Pierce took Senator Kennedy’s advice to heart and has dedicated his life to journalism, gaining accolades and winning many awards along the way. His years of experience has taught him many valuable lessons on success.“The keys to being successful in journalism are simple. First of all, you have to be accurate for without that as a journalist, your credibility is at stake. Second, you have to be reliable, resourceful and have a strong instinct about what is important in gathering information to tell a story. You must always be on time because the news doesn't wait or happen on your timetable. Most importantly, you have to always be objective. You cannot ever try to impose your own opinions or suppositions about the news. The First Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights for a reason and that is to ensure an independent press and the freedom to communicate freely. Therefore, I see it as an obligation to remain objective at all times as a journalist.”

As most reporters who enter the field of writing, it is the goal to contribute to the lives of others and make a difference in the world in some small way. Pierce shares one story that he considers his most memorable.

“When I was working in New Hampshire, the governor at the time, Maggie Hassan, was invited to speak at the New Hampshire Veterans Homes,” Pierce said. “I was assigned to cover the story. While I was there, I met a veteran, George Nichols, who found out I was a reporter and he asked if I could help him obtain his Purple Heart.”

Nichols was a medic during World War II and was at the Battle of Anzio Beach in Italy. Nichols was charged with carrying wound soldiers from the beach to the medic tent. He did this 18 times before mortar shrapnel impaled his right leg. At one point after he was wounded, his First Sergeant told him that he would be put in for a Purple Heart for being wounded in combat.“He was discharged without ever obtaining the Purple Heart and it had been his goal to attain the honorary award,” said Pierce. “He had been appealing his local and state legislators but to no avail.”

Nichols was denied the Purple Heart because his military records were damaged in a fire at the repository warehouse located in St. Louis, Missouri in 1973. And therefore, no documentation was available to authenticate his wounds.

“I told him that I wouldn’t be able to help him obtain his Purple Heart, but I would be willing to share his story with other and hope somebody would do the right thing,” Pierce said.

Pierce’s article was picked up by the Associated Press and was read nationwide. The owner of the Boston Globe, who was also the majority owner of the Boston Red Sox, reached out to Pierce explaining that the Red Sox would be celebrating Armed Forces Day and would like to invite Nichols to throw the first pitch.

“Nichols told me that he attended a Red Sox game for the first time in 1929 and it was a dream of his to throw the first pitch,” Pierce said. “I wasn’t able to help him get his PurpleHheart, but I was at least able to help him reach another dream.” died one year later.

Feature stories such as these as well as positive and solutions-based new coverage is important to Pierce’s personal mission. His journalistic principles align with the mission of The Windham Eagle newspaper.

“Readers have a right to expect timely articles about all of the accomplishments that students, teachers, staff and school programs have made or will make in the future,” Pierce said. “They also should expect to read about how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent by Windham and Raymond governments and by county and state governments and how programs operated by those governments work. The newspaper should be a go-to informative resource for when and where road and bridge projects will take place; changes in church leadership or worship times; veterans gatherings; interesting feature articles about local residents; scout projects; shining a spotlight on local businesses; and basically anything newsworthy in the community that has an impact upon the day to day lives of people who live here. That is how I will approach this job. I will answer every email and every phone call courteously and promptly and do my best to continue to make this paper worth reading.”   

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