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The COVID Chronicles is a novel written by Stu Whitney, a veteran journalist who worked for The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls for over three decades as a sports reporter and editor and columnist. The Argus leader is the largest daily printed newspaper in South Dakota covering Sioux Falls and the surrounding area. Whitney decided to take a buyout with the newspaper, which created more time for him to take on his next writing project. He decided to write a novel focused on how COVID-19 arrived in South Dakota and how state leaders and South Dakotans responded to it, while weaving in much of his journalism career, childhood, family, the newspaper industry, and South Dakota politics. All the components were gathered and put into a coherent fictional story that reflects many actual events that happened. Whitney is the narrator, a veteran journalist, who was “caught in a tug-of-war between South Dakota politicians, and he was pulled into a militia with dangerous intentions. Someone died because of his crimes. Eventually, he landed in the South Dakota State Penitentiary” (Whitney, 2021). However, while Whitney never committed the crimes of this fictional character in real life, the examples he uses regarding the COVID response in South Dakota are prevalent. In this paper, I will discuss the historical context, rhetorical descriptive analysis, and evaluation of the The COVID Chronicles. How does Stu Whitney use his book to explain the events surrounding COVID-19 in South Dakota? In his novel, The COVID Chronicles, Stu Whitney uses rhetoric to describe events that happened in South Dakota at the start and during the pandemic by connecting with his audience coherently on how partisan politics and messaging influenced the decisions people made regarding COVID-19.




South Dakota State University


© 2022 Carter Schmidt