Meet Your IPC: Todd Dvorak

By Sydney Sallabanks

In the newsroom and on the river, Todd Dvorak is lost in thought. Angling for the next big trout or the next thought-provoking story, the supervisory correspondent at the Boise Bureau of the Associated Press is pensive, always thinking about what’s going on.

His fascination with news first sparked in the late 1980s in the wake of major world events—the dismantling of the Berlin wall, the release of Nelson Mandela, and a major life event—college graduation. “I was floating around, trying to figure out what to do with my life,” said Dvorak. He became immersed in the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune coverage. “I was fascinated with the reporters who were in the middle of it all, and I thought, ‘I want to be there. I want to do that.’” And so he did.

Dvorak grew up in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, where his mother taught English and his father was a music professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He earned a B.A. in history from the University of Minnesota in 1989—the year his life-long love of history finally made sense to his future.

Jumping right in as a beat reporter at the Livingston Enterprise, a small daily in south-central Montana, Dvorak covered everything, from city and county government, environmental issues, cops and courts, to wolf reintroduction. “I had an old curmudgeon editor who taught me plenty, and held me accountable for my mistakes,” recalled Dvorak.  He took up fly-fishing in his off hours. “It was during the ‘A River Runs Through It’ era, and I was right there where the movie was filmed. Everyone thought Brad Pitt looked good in waders, and there was just a lot of energy around fly fishing.” Dvorak has been casting a line ever since.

Dvorak moved on from Montana to report for newspapers in North Carolina, North Dakota and Michigan. He landed at the Associated Press in Iowa City, Iowa in 2002, where he covered state and national politics, legal affairs, higher education and Big Ten athletics for the single-person bureau.

In 2007, Dvorak and his wife Meg happily moved west where he took on the role of administrator and editor as supervisory correspondent for the AP in Boise.  He oversees four staff writers who cover news in Idaho.

The Associated Press is non-profit cooperative owned by its members, who pay for the content they receive. As the main wire service, the Boise bureau serves all major dailies and dozens of television and radio stations throughout Idaho. Members include news agencies from the Teton Valley News to KTVB News Group. Nationally, AP members span from the New York Times to CNN.

Despite Dvorak’s mellow personality, the nature of the AP newsroom can be high speed and high stress. “There is a pressure and a rush to coverage,” explained Dvorak.  “We’re competitive and we want to win. I feel good when we’re the first to break a big story.”

Accountability is key to quality journalism, says Dvorak. “I encourage our reporters to constantly mine public records and do the homework. I want them to write features about people and places in Idaho that will interest a national audience. We need to hold people and government accountable and tell the stories that impact what people think or do. If we are not having an impact, we are not doing our jobs.”

While Dvorak is an admirer of Idaho and its outdoor offerings such as its rivers, mountains and “kick-ass climate,” he notes its heavily Republican political climate can present a challenge to covering politics. “Sometimes it’s difficult to get complete information in order to delve deep into the workings of both parties.”

The self-proclaimed “beer snob” also is a sporadic home brewer, who appears to be making the most of the lifestyle that Idaho has to offer. When not in the newsroom, Dvorak can be found fly-fishing and fly tying, reading novels, running and camping.

“Best thing is, I can be on the water in no time. Because most days, I’d rather be fishing,” he said.

Sydney Sallabanks is director of public relations at Stoltz Marketing Group, and is the associate representative on the Idaho Press Club board.