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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Journalism and Mass Communications

First Advisor

Lyle Olson


This exploratory study examines the impact of newspaper writing on members of the South Dakota State House of Representatives and State Senate. Throughout the history of the United States, political opinions written in newspapers championed causes to affect change. This study examines how South Dakota state legislators react to opinions written in South Dakota’s 11 daily newspapers and if they take those opinions into consideration when making policy decisions. Thirty-four of the state’s 105 legislators completed an online questionnaire, which included multiple choice, a five-point Likert-type rating scale and an open-ended question. Legislators who indicated that they frequently or always read opinions in at least one South Dakota daily newspaper came in at 68.7 percent – showing that they are reading the political opinion writing of South Dakota’s daily newspapers. The findings indicate that legislators do not view their own values, the values of their constituents and newspapers as being the same. This could explain why legislators do not follow the recommendations laid out by newspapers. This exploratory study raises questions about the influence of newspapers to achieve follow-through from legislators. Further research would reveal more information about how credibly newspapers are viewed in the state.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Legislators -- South Dakota
Press -- South Dakota -- Influence
Op-ed pages -- South Dakota
Press and politics


Includes bibliographical references (pages 63-67)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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