Scarcely a week after John Clark began his new job as publisher of the Capital Journal in Pierre, South Dakota, two children fishing in 90 feet of water on nearby Lake Oahe landed a Chinook salmon that weighed 23 pounds 5.76 ounces.
“It was a good sign,” Clark said.
That was just shy of the state record of 23 pounds 14 ounces, and it reminded Clark – an avid hunter and fisherman himself – that running a newspaper in an outdoors destination such as Pierre means he’ll understand his readers. He’s already met them in places he’s worked such as Iron River, Michigan, and he appreciates the complexity of some of their issues – habitat, access to public lands, economic development, tourism.
Pierre, after all, is the city that was ranked the No. 1 on a Pheasants Forever list released in 2013 of the 25 best places to hunt gamebirds, including pheasants. And at Pierre’s back door is the Fort Pierre National Grassland, a destination for hunters gunning for prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse.
But Pierre is different, Clark notes, in that some of the big decisions on those issues are made scarcely a mile from the Capital Journal in the South Dakota State Capitol. Pierre is a small city on the Great Plains where hunters and anglers brush elbows with lobbyists in suits.
“I think that changes the whole feel of the community,” Clark said.
Here, as elsewhere, Clark said, the personality of the community helps drive content. “The newspaper really belongs to the community. Whoever owns the newspaper, they’re really the caretakers,” Clark said.
In Pierre’s case, the newspaper is especially important because of its responsibility to cover state government.
“The newspaper has been here for over 100 years and we’re going to be here for a long time to come,” Clark said.
The son of former Illinois Attorney General William Clark, John Clark notes that some of his first experiences with newspapers came as a boy when he would accompany his father on the campaign trail across Illinois.
“I used to go to county fairs and the state fair with him,” he said. “We used to give out Clark bars.”
John Clark later attended Loyola University on a swimming and water polo scholarship, where he met his wife, Krista. Though his first job out of college was with a steel company, Clark wanted to work in newspapers. He has spent his entire career since then working for newspapers or newspaper groups in Iron River, Michigan; Manitowoc, Wisconsin; Stevens Point, Wisconsin; Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin; Greenville, Mississippi; Portsmouth, Ohio; LaGrange, Georgia; and Delaware, Ohio.
John and Krista Clark have two grown children, daughter Lauren, who lives in St. Louis, and son John, who lives in Chicago. They also have one grandchild, Marielle.
“We are so pleased to have John join the Wick family. His experience and knowledge will serve the Capital Journal and Pierre community well,” said Randy Rickman the Wick Communications regional publisher based in Williston, North Dakota. Rickman oversees the Capital Journal.