We use our journalistic searchlight to illuminate critical issues facing South Dakota, dissect the decisions made by state leaders, and explain the consequences of their policies and the role of politics in the lives of South Dakotans. 

We publish news and commentary that prioritizes accuracy, fairness, insight and civility. There is no charge to access our content, or to subscribe to our email newsletter. Other media outlets that follow our guidelines are free to republish our work.

We publish guest commentary that contributes to productive public discourse and adheres to our editorial policies. You can find our Commentary Submission Guidelines here.

South Dakota Searchlight launched in 2022. We’re an affiliate of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. The staff of the Searchlight retains full editorial independence.

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Seth Tupper


Seth Tupper has devoted his career to chronicling the people, places, history and politics of South Dakota. He was raised in the small towns of Wessington Springs and Kimball, graduated from South Dakota State University in Brookings, worked as a journalist at newspapers in Mitchell and Rapid City, and served as a supervising senior producer at South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s Black Hills Studio. Along the way, he won the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s Outstanding Young Journalist Award and a National Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting. He is the author of “Calvin Coolidge in the Black Hills,” about the 30th president’s three-month sojourn in South Dakota; the co-author of “Surviving the ’72 Flood,” about one of the nation’s deadliest natural disasters, the 1972 Black Hills Flood; and a contributor to “The Black Hills of South Dakota,” a travel guidebook. He lives in Rapid City with his wife and two children.

John Hult

Senior Reporter

John Hult is a journalist based in Sioux Falls, SD. The Huron, SD 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. John’s award-winning work has also appeared in publications in Colorado, New Mexico, and Alaska. Prior to joining States Newsroom, he spent four years in science communications for the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center just northeast of Sioux Falls.

Joshua Haiar


Joshua Haiar is a reporter based in Sioux Falls. Born and raised in Mitchell, he joined the Navy as a public affairs specialist and spent time stationed in Washington state and Washington, D.C., and also aboard an aircraft carrier that deployed to locations including Syria and the South China Sea. He then earned a degree in strategic communications from the University of South Dakota and worked for five years as a multimedia journalist with South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Joshua received multiple awards while in the Navy, including two Navy Achievement medals for outstanding public affairs work. He's also the recipient of three Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his work with SDPB.

Makenzie Huber


Makenzie Huber is a lifelong South Dakotan whose work has won national and regional awards. She's spent five years as a 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.