To our supporters:
It’s been a thrilling two weeks since the launch of South Dakota News Watch, which is gaining traction around South Dakota as a timely source of in-depth news about issues of statewide interest.
On behalf of our board and staff, thank you for your enthusiastic support at this critical time. Whether you’ve donated to our pilot year, or are considering a future investment in high quality journalism, we deeply appreciate your engagement in News Watch.
Across the nation, our fractured political climate, proliferation of agenda-driven web sites, and mounting financial pressures on many traditional newsrooms have spawned more than 100 non-profit organizations like South Dakota News Watch to meet the demand for intelligent, thorough and fair coverage of complex topics.
Here at South Dakota News Watch, we believe citizens of all ages are looking for news coverage on a wide variety of subjects, from education to public safety, that affect the quality of life for us and future generations.
Since our launch we’ve published the most complete examination of the devastating Legion Lake Fire at Custer State Park in 2017 that will have long-term consequences for one of South Dakota’s most popular tourist attractions; a broad look at the hazards posed by the state’s antiquated rail lines that are unequipped to safely transport dangerous materials; a look at the fight to make texting while driving and mandatory seat belts primary offenses; and an examination of the more than $1 billion dollars in sales tax exemptions granted in South Dakota each year.
We are proud of the issues our two-member news team of Bart Pfankuch and Maricarrol Kueter are tackling, and hope you’ve noticed. If you have not yet checked out our web site, you can access all our content – and the story behind the creation of South Dakota News Watch – at http://sdnewswatch.org.
Many of you were able to join us for our official launch and news conference on Feb. 13 at the Washington Pavilion and we’re grateful. More than 75 supporters, in addition to representatives from most media outlets in the Sioux Falls area, were on hand to hear co-chairs Randell Beck and Jack Marsh explain the what, why and when behind South Dakota News Watch.
If you didn’t attend, you can view the news conference and read the transcript right here: https://www.sdnewswatch.org/stories/video-transcript- south-dakota-news-watch- public-launch-and-press- conference/
This much is clear: Word is spreading quickly across the state that News Watch is here and producing the kind of sophisticated journalism that will make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family.
As Bart and Maricarrol focus on doing great work, the rest of the News Watch team is building public awareness about this new source of quality news.
More than 700 people are following South Dakota News Watch through our Facebook page and our reach has surpassed nearly 10,000 – astounding numbers considering we’ve been around less than a month. We’ve seen a similar response on other social media channels.
We’re monitoring those metrics because part of our job right now is to build public awareness of South Dakota News Watch – not only what we do, but why. The notion of journalism as a public trust, rather than a commercial enterprise wrapped in advertising, is new to most folks in this state. We need to explain ourselves.
As we do that, we are hard at work on three other fronts.
First, we are carefully and strategically expanding our board to include both media and non-media members. It is important that South Dakota News Watch truly represent the state, and that means identifying people across the region who believe in this work.
Next, we are building our relationship with partners in the print, digital and broadcast media. As we have often said, it is our hope that most readers will encounter South Dakota News Watch stories through their local provider, whether that is the Mobridge Tribune, KOTA Television in Rapid City or KCCR Radio in Pierre. We are working hard to facilitate those partnerships in a way that makes it relatively easy for those media outlets to publish the stories we produce.
And finally, as we continue to raise the quality of our journalism, we are laying the groundwork for future financial support.
We believe you, as a supporter, value the role high quality journalism can and should play in shining a light on issues of public importance. An investment in South Dakota News Watch is an investment in our future. Find out more by tapping the “Donate” button at the top right corner of our web site.
Again, we are grateful for your support. Feel free to let us know how we are doing – and what we can do to improve.
Randell Beck and Jack Marsh