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Tupper Launches South Dakota Searchlight: Free News Vital for Democracy, But Donations Welcome

The South Dakota news-scape is bursting with new outlets. Former Argus reporters Joe Sneve and Jonathan Ellis have been cranking out The Dakota Scout since the beginning of September. Now former newspaper and SDPB reporter Seth Tupper has launched his South Dakota Searchlight, a project of the national non-profit States Newsroom.

The Scout is printing papers and posting content online behind a paywall. Searchlight is posting its content exclusively online, all for free (and freely quotable), and inviting donations.

Tupper says his time on public radio convinced him that news, a vital function of democracy, can survive on the open-content/donations model:

…I watched in amazement as people sent donations to SDPB’s nonprofit arm, the Friends of SDPB. Having heard newspaper readers complain about paying $1 for a single copy or a few hundred dollars for a year’s subscription, it was astounding to learn about supporters of SDPB voluntarily writing checks with lots of zeros.

It further convinced me of something I’d been reading and thinking about for several years: that the nonprofit model is a big part of journalism’s future. As the internet continues to eat away at the subscriptions and advertising that support for-profit journalism, and as threats to democracy highlight the importance of journalism to a free society, it makes sense to view journalism in a new way: as a public good, worthy of support from those who appreciate it [Seth Tupper, “Shining a New Light on South Dakota,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2022.10.25].

Joining Tupper in his journalistic venture are former Argusians John Hult and Makenzie Huber and fellow former SDPBian Joshua Haiar.


  1. P. Aitch 2022-10-26 07:51

    Doing an internet search of the assertion: “People choose news they agree with.” offers hundreds of stories that agree with the premise.
    Question: Is news you agree with news at all?

  2. Ben Cerwinske 2022-10-26 08:00

    I like Seth Tupper. I hope it’s as good as I think it will be. It would be worth donations.

  3. Donald Pay 2022-10-26 09:31

    Good luck to journalists who work without a net. It’s a great public service, and much needed. Still, I’m not sure all these new additions to the newscape will pan out long-term. Why can’t these journalists band together and develop an advertising model that works in the modern age? Then it could be a long-term going enterprise.

    When I worked for a local bi-weekly newspaper in the early 1990s, we tried to focus on news that the big daily newspaper, the Rapid City Journal, didn’t cover. Some of these were small stories, some big. It was fun and rewarding, even though the pay was starvation level. I often did 100 hour weeks. It killed me. In that heyday of journalism in South Dakota, it was a very difficult business climate to compete in, and it took only two years for the paper to fail. I got fired as news editor, but they kept printing stories I would do. They were desperate, I guess.

  4. larry kurtz 2022-10-26 09:50

    Bless their hearts. Those of us who have watched South Dakota politics for decades can be assured that some in the extreme white wing of the SDGOP like Pat Powers is will start calling the Searchlight “fake news” just as soon as it exposes more wrongdoing in my home state.

  5. Ben Cerwinske 2022-10-26 13:49

    I like the idea of a bi-weekly newspaper. I wish the BH Pioneer did that although maybe it’s too difficult to pull off financially. I prefer print, but wouldn’t want to keep up with a paper everyday. Two papers a week with nothing but the most pressing national and state stories along with local articles would be awesome.

  6. P. Aitch 2022-10-26 13:52

    Happy National Public Radio music day. I like WQXR – Classical Music in New York City and Tumbado al 100 – Mexican urban and regional both free on iHeart radio.

  7. mike from iowa 2022-10-26 16:33

    Try a bi- anything and see how fast phony magat kristians get a constitutional amendment to ban it.

  8. mike from iowa 2022-10-27 15:05

    OT…former veep Pence ejaculated it is his opinion Americans do not have freedom from religion. Democracy is in deep do-do and this menace (all magats included) need be eliminated.

  9. mike from iowa 2022-10-30 08:46

    OT FWIW, former poster Debbo won Best In Show art exhibit in Minneapolis this week. There were 400 exhibits. DFP’s loss is art world’s gain.

  10. leslie 2022-10-31 22:51

    yea mfi but we have grdz “talent” daily ad nauseum

  11. P. Aitch 2022-11-01 05:01

    Debbo’s graphic artwork is indeed worthy of praise and recognition. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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