Staff and Contractors

South Dakota News Watch is staffed by a chief executive officer, two investigative journalists and freelance contractors.

Carson Walker, chief executive officer

Carson Walker (chief executive officer) The Iowa native’s first job in journalism was in his teens as a newspaper carrier for The Des Moines Register. He was a radio announcer and reporter while studying journalism and political science at Colorado State University. Walker began his career as a reporter, photojournalist, producer and anchor at KDLT-TV in Sioux Falls, where he also served as news director after six years as a beat reporter at the Argus Leader. His experience includes 17 years at The Associated Press as a writer and broadcast editor in Sioux Falls, an editor and supervisor on the national filing desk in Phoenix and as Dakotas news editor in Sioux Falls. He also held communications and video positions at the University of South Dakota and Sanford Health, where he launched and managed a crowdsourcing platform for the innovations team. Walker lives in Sioux Falls, has four adult children, and runs, cycles, hikes and skis.

Bart Pfankuch (content director), Rapid City, S.D., is content director and an investigative reporter and editor for South Dakota News Watch. A Wisconsin native, he is a former editor of the Rapid City Journal. Pfankuch has worked for more than 30 years as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Wisconsin, Florida and South Dakota, including as reporter or editor at the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram and Capital Times in Wisconsin, and at the Florida Times-Union and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida. He also is a syndicated writing coach who has presented at newspaper conferences across the country. Pfankuch has won more than four dozen journalism awards, including, while at News Watch, agricultural writer of the year from the North American Agricultural Journalists association in 2020 and 2021 and first-place reporting awards in the Great Plains Journalism Awards sponsored by the Tulsa Press Club.

Stu Whitney (investigative reporter) is a journalism graduate of Michigan State University who worked for nearly 30 years at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader as sports editor, news columnist, content coach and editorial board member. Whitney’s reporting efforts on challenges facing Native American student-athletes and ethics abuses in state government were recognized by the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Scripps Howard Foundation. His series on open enrollment in South Dakota received first prize nationally from the Education Writers Association in 2006. Whitney, a three-time South Dakota sportswriter of the year, left the Argus Leader in 2020 and published his debut novel, The Covid Chronicles, in August 2021. Whitney also published Behind the Green Curtain, a book about the Michigan State University football program, in 1990. He and his wife, Lisa, live in Sioux Falls and have a daughter (Emily, 22) and son (Elliot, 17). Whitney is a native of Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.

Michael Klinski

Michael Klinski (engagement specialist), Sioux Falls, S.D., joined News Watch part-time in February 2023. He brings a lifelong knowledge of the state (both East River and West River) and 17 years of journalism experience to News Watch. Klinski runs the site's social media channels and website and produces all of the interactive graphics and visual elements. Klinski was born in England on a military base and moved to Ellsworth, S.D., when he was 2. His family moved to Black Hawk near Rapid City when he was 4, and he graduated from Rapid City Stevens. He earned a degree in Mass Communications (Journalism) at the University of South Dakota, where he was the editor of The Volante student newspaper. After a brief stint with the Fargo Forum, he moved to Sioux Falls to work at the Argus Leader in 2005. He stayed there for 17 years, working as a reporter, copy editor, page designer, social media coordinator, breaking news editor, content coach, graphic designer and digital news editor. In 2022, he took a voluntary buyout and started working in marketing at SDN Communications, a regional business internet provider. He and his wife, Marsa, have four kids: twins Ian and Hayden (17), Emma (13) and Ethan (10).