By Samantha HillJune 7, 2018
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- An announcement gave the longtime PS Magazine editor a reason to change his retirement plans. PS Magazine won the Department of the Army awards for Most Improved Publication of the Year, and Jonathan Pierce won Army Editor of the Year.
Secretary of the Army Mark Esper presented the awards during a ceremony at the Pentagon, June 1.
"For ending a career, it's thrilling, it's humbling," Pierce said. "It's kind of a confirmation of the work done over the years."
Pierce's 44 years of service in the Army as a Soldier and then civilian led to this recognition. He retired as a sergeant major in 1992, having served as the chief of Army newspapers. After years working in different civil service positions, Pierce started working at PS Magazine in 2003 as a senior writer and editor, and he worked his way up to managing editor in 2008 and supervisory editor in 2010.
As a Soldier, Pierce served as a vehicle operator, performing preventative maintenance checks and services on his equipment. This experience made him familiar with PS Magazine, long before he worked there.
"PS Magazine was everywhere, in the company rest areas, the motor pool, even restrooms," he said. "It was hard not to use it."
The magazine gets its content straight from the source. Writers are sent to installations around the world to talk firsthand with Soldiers in motor pools and their commanders about the equipment. Each trip produces about 20 stories that help Soldiers in the field.
"We help Soldiers find the things that may not be present in their minds, but is important nonetheless," Pierce said.
The magazine has circulated through the ranks since June 1951. As technology changed, Pierce said some Soldiers started turning to social media and unofficial websites to get the information PS Magazine supplied. In March 2016, PS Magazine took a step in a different direction, providing digital versions of the magazine to Soldiers. The goal was to reach those users who were looking for information online.
In June 2016, PS Magazine printed its last hard copy. Now, the publication is solely online and on the app. The transition was not difficult from a technological standpoint, but their publication process was reworked. The change speaks for itself. In January 2016, the app had 12,000 unique users. Now, that number has grown to 53,000.
The magazine's users are noticing the changes. Thomas Esposito, chief of the Tactical Vehicle Division, said he has been a customer of PS Magazine since 1982.
"PS Magazine has always done a good job communicating information to the troops in the language we use," Esposito said.
He used the magazine during his 35 years of Army service and still uses it as a civilian. Though he misses the paper format, he said the app makes it easier to save and store information.
"They're evolving with technology," Esposito said. "For them to move forward and accommodate that makes sense. They're serving their audience."
Now, PS Magazine is developing a brand new app. It will provide users with push alerts, and the staff with analytics to report which articles users are reading. Pierce said they hope to release the app by the end of the year. Though he will not be on staff for this transition, he says his staff is ready.
"That's the caliber of staff I have," Pierce said. "They are willing, able and capable."
His retirement ceremony is June 20 in the Logistics Support Activity's command conference room. After years of service, Pierce plans to keep writing.
"It gets in your blood, and now I am able to create stories I think are interesting," he said. "They're mysteries or fantasies; it's world-building in a way. It's just satisfying work."