Northern Valley Beacon

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Friday, October 21, 2005


Making up and suppressing the news: Updates

Back when I was expected to be at the 6:45 a.m. editorial meeting for planning the day's newspaper, the closing ritual of the meeting was reviewing a long list of unfinished stories that needed follow up. Once a week, usually late Thursday afternoon, this list received a thorough going-over from editors and reporters. The objective was never to let an unfinished story slip under the currents of time. Inaction by agencies of government on continuing stories were generally signals that internal politics somewhere was working against the public interest.

Some stories from these region that would be on that list would be:

1. Violent juvenile crime. A high school boy, the son of a tribal chairman, is being held in the Red Lake School shootings from last spring. No word on the reasons. Some high school boys from Hastings, Minn., are being held in the murder of one of the boy's parents. After some conjectures as to the motives, no word. Four juveniles were arrested for a robbery, rape, and killing spree in Minneapolis. No word. A young woman was left in a field near Sisseton to die last winter. No word as to the motive. While motives may never be fully verified, at least the people need a clue or two as to what motivates such violence in the young. The Star Tribune has an update on the Hastings killings at

2. Closer to home: the killing of Professor Morgan Lewis. The questions left unanswered in this case have gone beyond identifying the cause of death to suggesting that the lack of information may have more to do with the severe dysfunction of city government. An e-mail said that attempts to discuss this situation have been deleted from the local newspaper's on-line forum. Some individuals have indicated they are taking up the handling of this case with their city council person.

3. The John Thune-MetaBank connection in the bankruptcy and fraud charges filed against the Dan Nelson auto company in Sioux Falls. Some reports have been made from attorney generals' office in Iowa and South Dakota, but no recent information.

4. The wind farm in Dickey County, N.D. The company that was putting up the windfarm threatened to balk because the county had put in place zoning rules regarding the placement of wind turbines. No follow up.

5. Why do gasoline prices between Aberdeen and Sioux Falls sometimes vary as much as 20 cents? Huron, which draws from the same pipeline as Aberdeen, often is 10 cents less than Aberdeen. No explanations of any credibility have been offered, leaving consumers to surmise gouging.

We'll stop with five. We are confident that if we want information on these stories, we will have to dig it up for ourselves. And five is quite enough until we post the next list.

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