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Lifelong journalist joins newspaper

Staff writer

Ed Pilolla, 42, of Marion has joined the staff of Hoch Publishing Company.

Pilolla brings a lifetime of experience as a newspaper writer, photographer, and editor.

A journalism career was not in his plans as a youth. His father had been an editor of a Chicago-area newspaper, but Pilolla wanted to chart his own course and become a veterinarian.

While working at a racetrack and in a veterinary hospital, he obtained college degrees in history and pre-med. But after being rejected twice for veterinary school, his father got him a job as a part-time reporter for a weekly newspaper in the area.

His on-the-job training actually began while he was in high school and college. His father edited and reworked his essays and other writing assignments. He also gave him newspaper-reading assignments. This served him well as he began an unplanned career in journalism.

He went on to write full-time for several weeklies and dailies.

“They would rework my stories, and it was painful,” he said, “but I learned.”

He took a job at the Concord Monitor in Concord, Massachusetts. It was known as “the learning newspaper” because it was staffed by leading editors who wanted to work for editor Mike Pride, a Pulitzer Prize Board member, and help aspiring journalists.

The newspaper covered the 2004 Democratic presidential primary. Pilolla found himself surrounded by reporters from all over the world. But when the candidates — John Kerry, Howard Dean, and Dennis Kucinich — were around, they wanted to talk to the local reporter. Pilolla wrote numerous breaking news stories that were picked up by major newspapers across the country.

The death of his father later that year hit him hard.

“Journalism brought us together,” Pilolla said.

He decided to take a break. He moved to Los Angeles, where most of his family then lived. For four years, he worked as a volunteer at soup kitchens, an animal shelter, and a rescue mission. He also picked up part-time reporting jobs.

He returned to full-time work when AOL hired him to run one of the first of the online news sites it established throughout the country. He then returned to working on a weekly newspaper.

“I’ve worked for a variety of editors, and I’ve acquired multi-media skills,” he said. “It’s been a colorful and vibrant education.”

He was volunteering at a soup kitchen when he met fellow-volunteer Alecia Stuchlik. They were married in December 2012.

After their daughter, Hazel, was born, they decided to move to Marion to be near Alecia’s parents, Ken and Malinda Stuchlik of rural Marion. They arrived in August.

“We are on a rural adventure,” Pilolla said. “I’m excited about the challenge of covering a smaller town. Covering a rural community is a new thing for me.”

Last modified Oct. 29, 2014

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