October 25, 2022

For Immediate Release


Sean Manning

- [email protected]

States Newsroom Launches South Dakota Searchlight

Veteran Journalist Seth Tupper to Lead New South Dakota Outlet

PIERRE, SD – States Newsroom, the nation’s leading network of state-based nonprofit news outlets, today launched the South Dakota Searchlight to provide free, high-quality, non-partisan reporting on the crucial issues affecting the Mount Rushmore State. The South Dakota Searchlight is States Newsroom’s 30th outlet in its network.

The newsroom is led by award-winning journalist Seth Tupper who will serve as Editor-in-Chief. Tupperwas previously a supervising senior producer for South Dakota Public Broadcasting and a newspaper journalist in Rapid City and Mitchell. He won the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s Outstanding Young Journalist Award and a National Edward R. Murrow Award in 2021 for his investigative reporting on the political and environmental ramifications of fireworks displays at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Tupper is a graduate of South Dakota State University and a resident of Rapid City.

Additional members of the South Dakota Searchlight’s newsroom include:

  • John Hult, Senior Reporter, is based in Sioux Falls. The Huron native and South Dakota State University graduate spent more than a decade covering criminal justice, public and consumer affairs, and environmental issues at the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, a publication he first freelanced for as a college student in 2003. Hult’s award-winning work has also appeared in publications in Colorado, New Mexico and Alaska. Prior to joining South Dakota Searchlight, he spent four years in science communications for the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center just northeast of Sioux Falls.
  • Joshua Haiar, Reporter, is also based in Sioux Falls. Born and raised in Mitchell, he joined the Navy as a public affairs specialist after high school. Joshua then worked for five years as a multimedia specialist and journalist with South Dakota Public Broadcasting.
  • Makenzie Huber, Reporter, is an award-winning journalist with experience reporting on workforce, development and business issues within the state. She most recently was the lead business reporter at the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, and previously served as a breaking news reporter at the paper.

“We are excited to launch our 30th outlet and help provide thorough, unbiased reporting to all South Dakotans,” said Chris Fitzsimon, Director and Publisher of States Newsroom. “Our goal is to report useful information for readers and build on the important journalism already happening on government and politics in the state. We know that Seth and his team will hit the ground running to cover the issues and the stories that matter the most to the people of South Dakota.”

The launch of the South Dakota Searchlight comes shortly after Pew Research Center cited States Newsroom and other nonprofit newsrooms as key to filling the void in statehouse coverage left by staffing cuts at legacy media outlets. According to Pew, the overall percentage of reporters working for nonprofit newsrooms in the statehouse press corps has more than tripled since 2014 and now makes up the largest portion of statehouse reporters in 10 states and the second largest in 17 states.

Last year, States Newsroom announced major plans to expand its footprint to have independent newsrooms in roughly 40 states and launched News from the States, a comprehensive source for statehouse news across the country. Recently, the organization expanded its reach by launching new content-sharing partnerships with eight independent nonprofit outlets, including the Texas Tribune, to host their reporting on News from the States. States Newsroom is set to continue its expansion this year to South Carolina and Alabama.

States Newsroom, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is funded by the generous contributions of readers and philanthropists. States Newsroom is committed to supporting fact-based, non-partisan news to the public at no cost and ad-free.

Other States Newsroom affiliates and partners are:

Alaska Beacon –

Arkansas Advocate –

Arizona Mirror –

Colorado Newsline –

Florida Phoenix –

Georgia Recorder –

Idaho Capital Sun –

Indiana Capital Chronicle –

Iowa Capital Dispatch –

Kansas Reflector –

Louisiana Illuminator –

Maine Beacon –

Maryland Matters –

Michigan Advance –

Minnesota Reformer –

Missouri Independent –

Daily Montanan –

Nebraska Examiner –

Nevada Current –

New Hampshire Bulletin –

New Jersey Monitor –

Source New Mexico –

NC Policy Watch –

Ohio Capital Journal –

Oregon Capital Chronicle –

Pennsylvania Capital-Star –

Tennessee Lookout –

Virginia Mercury –

Wisconsin Examiner –

In addition to its network of 30 state-based outlets, States Newsroom has content sharing agreements with eight leading nonprofit newsrooms: CommonWealth (Massachusetts), Connecticut Mirror, Honolulu Civil Beat (Hawaii), Mountain State Spotlight (West Virginia), Mississippi Today, Texas Tribune, VTDigger (Vermont), and WyoFile (Wyoming).