Register Publisher, North Alum Talks Journalism with Oracle
When he was a boy growing up on the Northside David Chivers used to deliver newspapers by tossing them onto his customers’ front porches in the dark. Now he delivers them digitally all over town and beyond as the president and publisher of the Des Moines Register.
Chivers is a Polar Bear, Class of 1994, and Friday he was back at North to deliver a token of appreciation to the journalism program that launched him on a career that’s come full circle, back to where it all began.
Besides dropping off a check for $500 towards traveling expenses to the National High School Journalism Convention next April in Los Angeles, Chivers made himself available to teacher Jennifer Dryden’s students for an exclusive group interview. Call it a professional courtesy extended to the staff of the North High Oracle, another paper that Chivers used to work for.
“I remember in ’94 we got a grant from Iowa State that brought the internet to North,” Chivers told the class. “Right away, I was fascinated by the technology.”
Chivers and his alma mater have established a connection that periodically sees Oracle stories reprinted in the Register. But his visit on Friday was hardly for recruiting purposes. He encouraged the student-journalists to keep their career options wide open.
“Just about every job I’ve had since I graduated from college (bachelor’s degree at Central College in Pella; MBA at the University of Iowa) didn’t even exist when I was your age,” he said. “Most of my friends are working at careers they didn’t plan on when they were in school.”
The important things now, he emphasized, are to work hard, explore with an open mind and seek out mentors in fields one is curious about.
Naturally, students had questions about Chivers’ past as well as their own futures. They learned that he attended now defunct Wallace Elementary and Harding and Hiatt Middle Schools in addition to North, and that he doggedly pursued his wife Theresa through those earlier years before finally piquing her interest in high school.
Delivering the Register was his first job but by the time he graduated from North he’d also worked part-time at Village Inn and Fareway and delivered pizzas.
High school extracurriculars included soccer, tennis, swimming and theater in addition to journalism.
“I even tried football when I was a freshman,” Chivers recalled, “but I quickly discovered that I didn’t enjoy getting hit.”
At the age of only 39 Chivers took over the newspaper he delivered as a schoolboy, on the youngish side for the president/publisher of a metropolitan paper. He still has a boyish grin and it flashed often while he spoke quietly to a roomful of his successors at North. But don’t be fooled by how softly he speaks. He carries one of the biggest sticks in town.