Ian Kirkwood has been named publisher of the Eastern Arizona Courier and the Copper Era in Safford, succeeding Belinda Mills.
Kirkwood, a 20-year veteran of the news industry, resides in St. David and is general manager of the Courier’s sister papers in Green Valley. He will join the staff on May 22.
“I’m excited to join the Eastern Arizona Courier/Copper Era team! I can’t wait to get involved with the community to continue the success of the newspapers,” Kirkwood said.
Francis Wick, CEO of the newspapers’ parent company Wick Communications, said Kirkwood will bring leadership experience and a first-hand understanding of rural communities to Graham and Greenlee counties.
“Ian’s background brings a variety of operational knowledge — from previously running the paper in Benson to understanding digital channels and small-town community engagement,” Wick said.
The Eastern Arizona Courier and Copper Era have published since the 1890s, and play an important role in reporting news, addressing issues and helping communities in the two counties set a high bar.
“While the newspaper industry has continued to change to address economic challenges, the efforts to provide quality independent news while supporting the business community with advertising and marketing solutions is our top priority,” Wick said.
Mills is relocating to Las Cruces, New Mexico, to be with her daughter and grandchildren. She has accepted a position as the southwest regional group publisher for Osteen Media Group.
“I will always cherish my time in eastern Arizona and the special people who live here; I have made great friends and lifelong memories,” Mills said. “It is now time for me to be with my family, and I have been blessed with an opportunity to make that happen.”
Group Publisher Dru Sanchez said Mills oversaw a successful rebranding of The Copper Era and Eastern Arizona Courier during her tenure; established EA Digital Solutions Marketing; and launched the quarterly Eastern Arizona Lifestyle magazine.
“Belinda was embedded in the communities, including participating on several boards and cohorts. She was involved in planning many events, even hosting a very successful event earlier this year,” Sanchez said.
Kirkwood is looking forward to learning more about the Gila Valley and said he will rely on Mills’ insight during the transition.
“I believe local news is vital to the community and we play a very important role in keeping everyone in the know,” he said. “I’m sad to be leaving the Green Valley News team but we’re only a phone call away. I thank Dru for her leadership and all the knowledge she has shared with me.”
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