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Editorial: Republic newsroom in transition

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We have made a few adjustments to the seating chart this week, with three Republic journalists sliding into new roles.

Kirk Johannesen, who has been on the Republic staff for 13 years, moves into the new position of city editor, responsible for directing the efforts of our news reporting team.

John Clark, also a 13-year member of the Republic newsroom, will be our new city and county government reporter.

Mark Webber, who is just at the six-month mark of his stint at The Republic, will become our public safety reporter.

Johannesen started in The Republic newsroom as a sports reporter, moving here from the Jasper Herald, where he also worked in sports.

Three years later he was promoted to sports editor, making the move to management. It was a position he held for four years.

In 2006, he requested a move into news and was named a senior reporter, covering a variety of topics. A year later, he was promoted again to the position of special projects editor, overseeing election coverage and special reports and leading news-project efforts.

While in this leadership role, he also covered news beats such as city hall, health and politics. He will continue to have an occasional hand in reporting as city editor, but most of his time will be spent identifying coverage opportunities throughout Bartholomew County and the region, assigning stories to reporters and editing those stories for publication in print and online.

Johannesen is a talented, hard-working individual who has garnered respect in the community, in our newspaper company and in the journalism industry. Several of his stories were recognized two weeks ago when the Hoosier State Press Foundation awards were announced.

You can contact Johannesen at 812-379-5639 or

Clark has a somewhat similar background, joining The Republic as a news reporter in 1999 from the Shelbyville News, where he also was a news reporter.

He, too, has been promoted a number of times. Three years after joining the staff, he was named special projects editor, a leadership role on the staff. In 2007, he became online editor, helping steer our digital efforts in a growing segment of our business.

A year ago, he was promoted to local news editor, overseeing the local news report.

At his request, Clark recently sought a chance to get involved again in reporting and writing. He’ll have that opportunity covering city hall, the county courthouse and writing about issues that matter to people across Bartholomew County.

And he’ll do a good job at it — especially since he’s done it before. Nothing beats experience, and Clark has that.

You can contact Clark at 812-379-5769 or jclark@

Webber might have the least tenure among these three Republic staffers, but he has been a broadcast journalist for more than 30 years — much of it in the Columbus market.

He worked here as a broadcast journalist from 1981-99, mostly doing radio news. He spent the next 12 years in Lafayette, also mostly in radio news.

Before he went into radio, he had a print internship at the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun newspaper.

Webber came to The Republic this past summer as our Bartholomew County government reporter and regional reporter. While he’s keeping the regional responsibility, he fills a void on the police and fire beat. He loves news and will do a great job in his redefined role.

You can contact Webber at 812-379-5636 or

Please join me in congratulating each of them. And if you have story ideas for any of them, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Tom Jekel is editor of The Republic. His column appears each Sunday. You may reach him by phone at 379-5665 or by email at

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