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DFP Interview: Bob Mercer Recounts Career in Journalism (Part 1 of 3)

Bob Mercer, at SDNA convention, Aberdeen, SD, 2017.04.28.
Bob Mercer, at SDNA convention, Aberdeen, SD, 2017.04.28.

South Dakota’s senior state government reporter, Bob Mercer, came to Aberdeen Friday to receive the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s Distinguished Service Award. Mercer took time after the lunchtime ceremony to give this blog an extensive interview about journalism, Janklow, and the health scare that knocked him off the front page for a few weeks last winter. Here’s Part 1 (downloadable to your favorite device for listening later!), in which Mercer talks about the first half of his career: his path from Mrs. Pfau’s high school classroom in Wisconsin to papers in Wyoming and South Dakota. He talks about the people he worked with and the sequence of events that led him to be one of the few remaining reporters dedicated to covering state government in Pierre.

Update 2017.04.30 16:01 CDT: Check out Part 2, in which Mercer talks about his four years as Governor Bill Janklow’s press secretary…. [update 2017.05.01 08:15 CDT] and Part 3, in which Mercer talks about his illness and recovery this winter and spring.


  1. Troy 2017-04-29 14:28

    Three comments:

    1) I think the reason Bob doesn’t remember why he wanted to cover state government is he has forgotten, after several years of spending the winter in Pierre covering session, he realized what a great place Pierre is to live. Pierre really sells itself in the winter.

    2) I hope Bob touches on being a political reporter in a company town and living there. His ability to live in these two worlds so successfully is ultimately the evidence of his integrity. He could write a tough story, run into you and sincerely ask and talk about your kids or the Twins or the local sports or the idiot at the city park who tipped over all the trash barrels.

    3) I’m so glad Bob agreed to this. He is so darn dedicated to not being the story that it was possible his story never got told. He is an institution of our state for what will be over 40 years. Few people can say that. Bob really could write a book because nobody was sitting in the front row as an observer over the terms of Janklow, Mickelson, Miller, Janklow, Round, Daaguard, and whoever follows. That is a lot of policy.

    P.S. I also wonder if he will touch on his wife. This is one guy who way out-kicked his coverage.

  2. John 2017-04-29 19:03

    Well written, Troy. Thank you for your unbridled support of the Fourth Estate done right.

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