Former publishers of Madison, Watertown newspapers inducted into SD Newspaper Association Hall of Fame

The induction took place at the South Dakota Newspaper Association's annual convention, held May 12-14 at Mitchell's Highland Conference Center.

Jon Hunter, left, and Mark Roby, right, were inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame during the South Dakota Newspaper Association's annual convention May 12-14 at Mitchell's Highland Conference Center.
Images courtesy of the South Dakota Newspaper Association
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MITCHELL — The South Dakota Newspaper Association (SDNA) has inducted two former daily newspaper publishers, both of whom served as president of the SDNA, into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame.

Jon Hunter and Mark Roby, both with lifelong contributions to South Dakota's media landscape, were honored with the induction at the SDNA's annual convention, held May 12-14 at Mitchell's Highland Conference Center.

Hunter succeeded his father and grandfather as publisher of the Madison Daily Leader and now joins both as a third-generation member of the Newspaper Hall of Fame. Hunter was publisher of the Daily Leader for 31 years before selling the newspaper and printing business in 2021.

A Watertown native, Mark Roby worked part-time as a sports reporter at the Watertown Public Opinion in high school and went on to a successful career in the corporate world before returning to Watertown in 2002 to serve as publisher of the Public Opinion. He retired as president and regional publisher of the Dakota Media Group — consisting of the Watertown and Aberdeen newspapers — in 2017.

Hunter served one term as president of the SDNA in 1996-97, while Roby served one term in 2008-09.


“We are delighted to honor Jon Hunter and Mark Roby with induction into the Newspaper Hall of Fame,” said Robert Slocum, SDNA president and publisher of the Timber Lake Topic. “Both of them have contributed mightily to not only the newspaper industry, but to their communities and to our state as well. Jon and Mark set the standard for their dedication to quality community journalism and community newspapers.”

Beyond his work at the Daily Leader, Hunter is a founding director of South Dakota News Watch and serves as its secretary today. He was a member and chairman of the South Dakota Investment Council, and served on the boards of the Dakota State University Foundation, Lake Area Improvement Corporation, Karl E. Mundt Foundation and the South Dakota Heritage Fund. He also taught finance to undergraduates at Dakota State University.

Roby has served on numerous community and state boards and organizations as well. Like Hunter, Roby was a founding director of South Dakota News Watch. He serves on the board of directors for the Prairie Lakes Healthcare System in Watertown. In 2013, Roby was appointed by then-Gov. Dennis Daugaard to the South Dakota Judicial Qualifications Commission. He serves on the South Dakota Special Committee on Judicial Elections.

Both Hunter and Roby have continued active membership with the SDNA. Outside their terms on the SDNA Board of Directors, both newspapermen are longtime members of the SDNA First Amendment Committee, which advocates for open government and First Amendment issues at the state and national levels.

Hunter is one of a small number of newspaper publishers who has served multiple terms on the SDNA Board. As SDNA president, Roby oversaw the association’s fundraising and move to a building it constructed in Brookings in 2008.

The South Dakota Newspaper Association, based in Brookings, represents the state’s 113 weekly and daily newspapers. Every month, 574,000 consumers — 83% of South Dakota adults — read local newspapers in print and online, according to a statewide survey commissioned by SDNA and conducted by Coda Ventures in September 2021.

Plaques honoring members of the Newspaper Hall of Fame are displayed at the Anson & Ada May Yeager Hall at South Dakota State University. The SDSU School of Communication and Journalism has been home to the Newspaper Hall of Fame ever since the Hall was established in 1934. More information can be found on the association's website.

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