Meet Your IPC: Rhonda Prast

Rhonda Prast is the executive editor of the Idaho Statesman and a board member of the Idaho Press Club. Born in Indiana, she grew up in Phoenix.  She did not consider a career in journalism until midway through college, switching from an advertising design major to photojournalism. She has worked for seven news organizations across the country in her career.  She developed iPad apps as a Magazine faculty professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and led a team to create a sports app at the Kansas City Star.  She answered 10 questions posed by fellow IPC board member Joan Cartan-Hansen.

What was your first newspaper job?

Asst. picture editor, Providence Journal-Bulletin

What do you like and dislike about your job?

Love producing great storytelling and making a difference in our community.

Dislike – the long hours required on some days.

What is the biggest (or most important) story you ever worked on and what role did you play?

Covering the Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in Florida. This was pre-digital, so the print publication was vital to getting critical information out – for weeks. Everyone in the room contributed ideas for coverage after the storm. 

What did you know about Idaho when you first were offered a job at the Idaho Statesman?

Not much. I had only been here once. But I knew there was a sizable conservative audience here – and that Idahoans really treasured lifestyle and outdoor activities. 

What do you and your family like to do when you are not working?

Hiking, going to the theater, volunteering

What has surprised you the most about living in Idaho?

The strong anti-growth sentiment                          

What is the biggest challenge facing the newspaper industry?  And how are you dealing with it?

Finding a business model for journalism that will help newsrooms grow. We are experimenting with audience growth strategies continually. We’re also reminding casual readers that great content has value. It should not be free.

What one (or two)  thing(s) have you done in your life that would surprise your colleagues?

I played the glockenspiel in the marching band in high school. 

I helped build a Habitat for Humanity House with President and Mrs. Carter in Miami.

What advice do you have for future journalists?

Learn to be flexible and adapt. Having mad writing skills is your golden ticket.

Why did you join the Idaho Press Club?

With all the pushback we get as members of the press, as a group, it is important to talk about these issues.  There’s strength in numbers.

Joan Cartan-Hansen is an Emmy-winning producer, host and writer for Idaho Public Television, and is the treasurer of the Idaho Press Club board.