The good news: Bob Mercer keeps his job! After the Trump economy drove Dakota Media Group to can South Dakota’s best Pierre-based reporter, Mercer found an outfit to keep him on the Capitol beat.
The bad news: Mercer’s new boss is KELO-TV:
“We are extremely happy to add journalist Bob Mercer to our newsroom,” said Jay Huizenga Vice President and General Manager of the KELOLAND Media Group. “Bob is a well-respected reporter and columnist and he will provide perspective and experience to our government and political reporting.”
“This promises to be an exciting adventure,” Mercer said.
Mercer has been in the news business since 1984 with a four-year exception, when he served as press secretary during the fourth and final term of Gov. Bill Janklow’s administration from late 1998 through 2002.
During the past nine years, he operated a news bureau in Pierre for the Aberdeen American News and syndicated his stories to the other daily papers in the group. He received the Associated Press Managing Editors journalist of the year award in 1986. The South Dakota Newspaper Association honored Mercer with its Distinguished Service award in 2017.
Mercer will begin his reporting for KELOLAND Media Group in October. He will be based out of Pierre, serving as the Capitol Bureau Chief, but will provide statewide coverage of political and government issues [“Veteran Journalist Bob Mercer Joins KELOLand,” KELO-TV, 2018.07.19].
Now I’m not completely sure KELO-TV’s Mercer lifeline is bad news. My initial impression is that 90-second video bits aren’t the optimal format for Mercer’s detailed reporting on complicated government issues. And Mercer is only a little prettier than Kevin Woster, another veteran print journalist who sojourned briefly on KELO-TV before finding a better home for his face and prose on public radio. KELO-TV’s acquisition of Mercer could mean his solid political reporting goes exclusively to the airwaves and disappears from all the rest of the newspapers that have enjoyed his services over the past several years.
Still, Mercer stays on the beat, applying his vast institutional knowledge to helping us keep track of everything that’s happening in our state government. Let’s hope KELO-TV gives him plenty of room to do what he does best and turns his smart reporting into the best political coverage South Dakota TV can offer.