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LETTER: Government and media in 2017

To the Editor: The 2016 local, state and national elections are over, and I have been thinking about the results. One result is that South Dakota is once again governed by one party. It is more Republican than ever, with the governorship and mass...

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To the Editor:

The 2016 local, state and national elections are over, and I have been thinking about the results.  One result is that South Dakota is once again governed by one party. It is more Republican than ever, with the governorship and massive majorities in both houses of the legislature Republican as well as both of our senators and the house member in Congress. This means they control the agenda and can pretty much control the message that the public hears, sees or reads about the issues. The fact that the vast majority of public office holders in South Dakota are of one party means the media, more likely than not, will be reporting mostly the Republican point of view because most public office holders and appointees are Republicans. This overwhelming control of the message enhances a self-perpetuating monopoly of opinion that does great disservice to the people of South Dakota. The phrase, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” comes to mind. It seems we may be headed that direction in both the state and national governments.

All the media outlets of South Dakota need to develop a more skeptical, questioning attitude and the public needs to continue to demand a more open and ethical government and a more balanced editorial view from the media. The passage of Initiated Measure 22 indicates the public’s desire in this regard. The media needs to adopt the old notion that one of the roles of newspapers and other media is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Someone I have been reading for awhile is John Tsitrian, of Rapid City, who writes a blog:  The Constant Commoner: Common Ground for South Dakotans Seeking Discussion, Not Ideology. All newspapers should print his columns.

Our officials and the media need to be reminded occasionally that the majority (53.7 percent) of registered voters in South Dakota are not Republicans. To truly fulfill their public service role the media needs to present a balanced view of the issues; i.e., for every proponent there is an opponent; I would like to hear from them all.

Richard Peterson

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Wewela

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