John Clark, publisher of the Capital Journal in Pierre since July 2015, announced this week he is retiring.
“After 46 years in the news business, I’m retiring at the end of the month,” Clark told Capital Journal employees on Monday, Jan. 6, in the newspaper building on Dakota Avenue. “My last day is Jan. 31.”
He grew up in Chicago, and that is still his home, Clark said.
“I have a 93-year-old mother in Chicago. I have a sister and three brothers, a son and daughter and two granddaughters, who all live in the Chicago area. I just think it’s time to get close to the family.”
He and his wife, Krista, have been married since 1973, when he started his Midwest newspaper career.
“We have moved around the country, mostly the Midwest, since 1973,” he said Monday. “It’s time to go home.”
Clark was named publisher of the Capital Journal on July 28, 2015, by officials of Wick Communications, a family-owned, Arizona-based news media company with 27 newspapers in 11 states, including dailies in Williston and Wahpeton in North Dakota and in Fergus Falls in Minnesota, as well as Pierre.
Clark came to Wick and to Pierre from Delaware, Ohio, where he was publisher of 19 daily and weekly papers for Civitas Media.
Clark said at the time he wasn’t familiar with the West, but was an avid hunter and angler, especially of roughed grouse and woodcock in Upper Michigan and duck-hunting in Canada and Michigan.
Clark is famously a Chicago Bears fan to those who know him. He recalled Monday “my first Rotary Club meeting in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, when I told them I was a Bears fan.” He made it out of the meeting alive, but barely, it sounded like. “They take their Packers seriously in Wisconsin.”
Clark’s father, William Clark, was Illinois attorney general, and sparked his first interest in newspapers as he went with his father on the campaign trail,, Clark said in a 2015 article.
“I used to go to county fairs and the state fair with him,” he said. “We used to give out Clark bars.”
Clark attended Loyola University on a swimming and water polo scholarship and that’s where he met Krista.
After a short stint working for a steel company, Clark worked for newspaper companies in Iron River, Michigan; Manitowoc, Wisconsin; Stevens Point, Wisconsin; Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin; Greenville, Mississippi; Portsmouth, Ohio; LaGrange, Georgia; and Delaware, Ohio and Pierre and Fort Pierre.
He said his experience taught him: “The newspaper really belongs to the community. Whoever owns the newspaper, they’re really the caretakers.”
As employees wished him well Monday, Clark said, “Pierre is a beautiful community, you guys are lucky.”
“The search is on for a new publisher” for the Capital Journal, said Ken Harty, Wick’s group publisher for the Capital Journal and the papers in Williston, Wahpeton and Fergus Falls, who was in Pierre this week.