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CMU student media director finalist Dave Clark: ‘I’m not going to win a Pulitzer, but I can help you’

Dave Clark, one of the three candidates for Director of Student Publishing, interviews with editors of CM Life in a public forum at the CM Life conference room on Wednesday afternoon. (Zack Wittman/Staff Photographer)

Dave Clark, one of the three candidates for Director of Student Publishing, interviews with editors of CM Life in a public forum at the CM Life conference room on Wednesday afternoon. (Zack Wittman/Staff Photographer)

Director of Student Publications finalist Dave Clark doesn’t think he’ll win a Pulitzer prize, but he knows he can help students.

Clark, the Editor-in-Chief of The Pioneer in Big Rapids and CMU graduate, has previously served as former assistant metro editor and business editor at the News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Ind., and as an editor at The Daily Telegram in Adrian.

“My policy as an editor, and certainly as an adviser, would always be an open door,” Clark said.

He said being an adviser means serving as a resource to students and as an ambassador to the campus community, including the journalism department.

“I think that’s part of the role of an adviser to a paper like this,” Clark said. “Somebody needs to be able to say to a professor or someone who leads a student organization, ‘You can come into our office.’”

A goal of Clark’s is helping students get the most out of their time at Central Michigan Life and The Central Review, the two student publications the director oversees.

Clark provided many suggestions about how to improve and to make changes to the newspaper.

“What if you decided to write and design (the paper) as if it were for a commuter audience?” Clark said.

He said this commuter-style layout would focus on publishing shorter, summary-style stories and fewer long-form stories, while still emphasizing the news students want to read.

“Quality must always be maintained,” he said. “(But, this could) make (the paper) more of a compelling read.”

Clark also suggested changing the layout of the newspaper from its current broadsheet style to a smaller, more portable tabloid-style paper.

He praised the CM Life mobile application, including its notification of specials and deals, but said there is a challenge in monetizing the app. He said the path CM Life takes and the mission statement it establishes is up to its editors and reporters, but he wants the job to help steer students in the right direction.

“It’s not my role to chart that. I think it’s (the editor’s) job to decide that, and I think it’s my job to help them make it happen,” he said. “That’s the epiphany I had. I’m not going to win a Pulitzer Prize, but I can help you, and that’s enough for me.”

Being the director of student publications keeps someone in charge of the newspaper’s traditions and legacy, he said.

“Part of what I should do as the adviser is to protect the brand and to protect the legacy (of CM Life),” he said.

Promoting the brand of CM Life and the Central Review is something he would focus on, if chosen for the job.

“We have to tell this story, not every once in a while, but all the time, on campus,” he said. “You should want to pick that up every day. You should want to be in (the paper) every day.”

An open forum was held for finalist Jim Knight Monday afternoon while fellow candidate and Washtenaw Community College newspaper adviser Keith Gave held an open forum directly after Clark.

The Student Media Board will narrow the finalists to two candidates, then Provost Gary Shapiro will make his decision. It is unknown when Shapiro will make a final decision with the position.

6 Comments

  1. Dumbing down LIFE for a non-existent “commuter” audience would not only be an enormous disaster but also a very real disservice to CMU’s student journalists. The real headline here is that Clark somehow thinks advisers to student newspapers are eligible to win a Pulitizer. Does CMU need dumb ideas guiding its student publications? I hope they don’t pick this guy.

  2. Dave Clark and The Pioneer Group has a history of promising the world to his employees and then delivering none of what he promises. He works for a company that treats it’s audience with no respect whatsoever and pays it’s reporters pennies on the dollar. Just look at the turnover of Pioneer Group Publications and why they are consistently posting jobs on JournalismJobs.com? This guy would be a bad choice for CM Life.

    • Zeke Jennings says:

      I worked at the Pioneer under Dave for three years and couldn’t disagree with you more. Dave was always up front with me, including during the entire interview process. If you polled Dave’s current and former employees at the Pioneer, the majority would agree with me.

      As far as the pay and turnover rate at the Pioneer, it’s a small-town paper. Of course it doesn’t pay all that well and people move on to bigger and better things after a few years.

    • Lindsey Wahowiak says:

      I also worked at the Pioneer under Dave for three years, and I’m echoing Zeke’s sentiments. Dave was and is a mentor to young journalists. The stories he helps bring to life – including several award-winning series – reflect and serve the Pioneer readership, and readers told me so every day that I worked in Big Rapids. Like any small daily, it’s got a young staff, small budget and high turnover–but that’s because it’s a training ground for some of the brightest reporters I’ve had the pleasure to work with or read (and many of them came from CM Life, The State News and Grand Valley Lanthorn). They either move on to bigger publications, or are promoted.

    • Zeke Jennings says:

      Lindsey said it better than I did about a small budget and high turnover. The Pioneer Group is a fine company to work for, and I learned a lot while I was there and met plenty of great people, whether it was co-workers or members of the community.

  3. David Barber says:

    Anonymous, very gutless to not put you name, meaning your comments are selfish and without merit. The Pioneer Group, over the years and decades, has done much for the communities they serve and, over the years, have groomed outstanding talent and served their readers, well. Please advise where I can send your my 25 cents so you can buy a new life, which, at that rate, would be twice as good as the one you have. Dave Clark will do just fine in whatever endeavor he pursues. At least he puts he signs his name to what he does.

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