Jonathan Karl Says South Dakota Has Shaped His Identity as a Journalist

By A.J. Katz 

ABC News’ chief Washington correspondent and chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl was profiled by ABC’s South Dakota affiliate KSFY on Thursday.

Karl, a native South Dakotan, spoke about growing up in rural America: “I was in Hill City, population 350. We eventually moved to Keystone, which has a population of about 115,” his ability to thrive in the cutthroat business of journalism, and how he maintains a laser focus on the task at hand despite having to deal with an administration that publicly criticizes his profession on a daily basis.

Karl says growing up in a small town helped contribute to his identity as a journalist.

“It definitely, definitely shaped who I am,” Karl said. “I mean, my friends, their parents were loggers or one was the game warden for Pennington County. It was a very different world and I was immersed in that world. I loved it.”

Karl eventually made it from South Dakota to Washington after “many years of hard work and persistence.” He thinks the future is bright for journalists, regardless of background or where they come from. The internet and advancement in technology helps.

“I think that there are opportunities now, especially for those in places like where I grew up,” he explained. “Now, you’ve got access to information through the Internet, you’ve got access to a lot of the same information that reporters here have. I think that fundamentally, if you want to break through in this business, it’s about being inquisitive and it’s about knowing how to write.”

Karl, a 14-year veteran of ABC News who is now covering his fourth presidency, conceded that the atmosphere now is nothing like the previous three.

“This is particularly contentious,” Karl said. “To hear the president and the president’s press secretary, day after day, launch attacks on us, puts us in an uncomfortable situation because we don’t want to be part of the story.”

So how does Karl deal with the contentiousness? “We have to go out there and try to seek the truth, hold those in power accountable, and cut through the clutter.”