Statesman taps Kansas City journalist as top editor

Rhonda Prast
Rhonda Prast

Rhonda Prast, assistant managing editor for digital at the Kansas City Star, was named the new Idaho Statesman editor and vice president Thursday.

She replaces Vicki Gowler, who served as editor for a decade before retiring in March.

Prast is strong in digital, leadership, strategy and journalistic integrity, said Debra Leithauser, Statesman publisher.

“Rhonda’s mix of talents will help the newsroom continue to do great journalism that matters to our community,” said Leithauser. “She knows where our industry is going, where our readers’ interests​ are and how best to connect with them. It’s an exciting opportunity for the Statesman and for Boise.”

She really hit the mark on digital.

Statesman publisher Debra Leithauser

Prast brings years of experience in boosting newspapers’ presence on digital platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and apps. Newspapers are developing new ways to reach audiences that find their information on a variety of digital sources.

“We have to do our best work in all these channels,” Prast said.

At the Kansas City Star, Prast was part of a team instrumental in developing digital outreach to meet surging audience interest in the Kansas City Royals in 2014 and the 2015 World Series.

“The Royals in the World Series was like a rocket ship to us,” Prast said.

Prast focused on print journalism until 2006, when she became part of a digital team at the Minneapolis Star.

“I was a seasoned journalist who reinvented herself in the last (several) years to focus only on digital,” she said.

Prast has experience in just about every facet of newspapers, said Anders Gyllenhaal, vice president for news for The McClatchy Co., which owns the Statesman. “Editors need to understand the fundamentals of our profession as well as where media is going,” he said. “That is what we have in Rhonda.”

Prast grew up in Phoenix, Ariz., and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Arizona State University and a master’s in journalism from the University of Missouri. Before working in Minneapolis from 1999 to 2010, she worked as a page designer and magazine art director at the Miami Herald and the Seattle Times.

Prast plans to spend a few months learning about the Statesman and the community before initiating ideas on how to shape Statesman coverage.

I want to observe for several weeks or several months … be a sponge and really learn.

Rhonda Prast on her plans for starting as the new Statesman editor

“Doing great journalism and growing our digital audience will remain the top priority,” she said. “Investigative and opinion journalism that can effect change remains a top priority.”

Prast will start her new job Aug 1.

She is married to Steve Rice, who teaches at the University of Missouri journalism school. He plans to do freelance video editing and video production when he moves to Idaho. She and her family are excited to come to Boise and are looking forward to Idaho’s skiing and cycling opportunities, Prast said.

The couple has two daughters, Lauren, a graduate student at the University of Washington, and 13-year-old Callie.