Marci Burdick of Rapid City has quickly developed into one of the key leaders in oversight and direction of South Dakota News Watch since becoming a member of the Board of Director just two years ago.
Burdick is a journalism industry veteran with solid chops in news reporting, media management and executive leadership.
Burdick, who now serves as vice chair of the News Watch board, retired in 2019 after a 48-year career in broadcasting. Her news roots run deep, planted at the young age of 14 when she took an after-school job at a radio station in Rapid City. In the decades since, Burdick worked as a TV reporter and weather forecaster, a news director and station general manager and eventually rose to become an executive with Schurz Communications.
Burdick’s vast experiences and track record of producing award-winning journalism give her the credibility and clout to serve as an effective leader in the growing non-profit journalism sector, of which South Dakota News Watch is a leader in her home state. Furthermore, Burdick has a curious, upbeat, high-energy nature and possesses a sincere kindness that provide her with ability to lead while also working side-by-side with the News Watch staff to set a course for growth and continued excellence within the organization.
Burdick is slated to become chairperson of the News Watch board in 2023. Here is a brief Q&A with Burdick as she prepares to take on an even bigger role within the organization.
What first drew your attention to SDNW and why did you want to become involved?
“I moved back to South Dakota in 2018 and began seeing the South Dakota News Watch byline in my local newspaper. I thought the stories were important, timely and substantial. As a former journalist, I knew about the non-profit news movement and wanted to help.
SDNW has a motto to Inform, Enlighten and Illuminate? What three words would you use to describe News Watch and its mission?
“Investigate, Reveal, Educate.”
What role do you see News Watch playing in South Dakota in regard to informing the public and policymakers now and into the future? What are the top benefits the news service provides?
“I loved a former colleague’s definition of news, ‘It’s what people are talking about….or what they should be!’ News Watch plays a critical role in both reporting on issues in which South Dakotans are already engaged AND in informing them about substantive issues they may have never heard about. Information gives South Dakotans power to act — whether voting or encouraging policy decisions. Policymakers also are not omniscient, and good laws often come from good journalism. And News Watch serves an important watchdog role, reporting on the decisions lawmakers are making and money they’re spending.”
What are you looking forward to as you engage in a larger leadership role at South Dakota News Watch as chair of the board in the coming year?
“As the founders, Jack Marsh and Randall Beck, decide to begin stepping back from leadership, they leave big shoes to fill. I am looking forward to helping the organization transition to a structure that will sustain it for the future.”
Where does News Watch go from here? What’s next, what’s exciting, what should people be looking forward to?
“What’s exciting is that this organization survives because it is helping sustain investigative and in-depth news in South Dakota. That’s important to our supporters and demonstrated by the fact that the vast majority of them renew their economic support yearly. Working with the existing media in the state, News Watch has a great business model to benefit news consumers. We’ll always be about ‘the story,’ and continuing to find the next important one is exciting!”
What is one cool thing we should know about you that isn’t part of your bio on the News Watch website?
“I think being a journalist is the coolest job in the world and gave me some great experiences. During the tourism crisis in 1979-80, I convinced then-Senator George McGovern and then-Governor Bill Janklow to sit down for a 1-hour program to discuss their very different approaches to the problem. The two were far from friendly in those days and the program drew some sparks. The last question I asked them was something like, ‘Are the two of you ever going to be able to work together for the benefit of the state?’ They agreed to talk the next day and, I’m told, that call resulted in a life-long friendship.”
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