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Matt Von Pinnon, Published April 20 2013

Von Pinnon: Awareness events at times lose out to breaking news

A couple recent letters to the editor took us to task for not covering the April 6 Run 4 Change, a Deutscher Family Memorial in Fargo.

The event was a morning series of walks and runs meant to raise awareness of drinking and driving’s negative impact on people in the region. It also raised money to better educate people who serve alcohol to others so they can help head off potential problems before they end in tragedy.

Run 4 Change was done in memory of a pregnant Allison, Aaron and their 1-year-old daughter, Brielle, who were all killed July 6 by a drunk driver going the wrong way on I-94 west of Jamestown. The drunk driver, Wyatt Klein, also died that night.

The story resonated in North Dakota for many reasons, but mostly because the state has a serious drunk driving problem that elected officials seem unwilling or incapable of addressing.

Fargo Police Chief Keith Ternes prophetically and pessimistically predicted before this legislative session that weak DUI laws wouldn’t be stiffened despite such a glaring example of why they should.

From when the accident occurred until now, The Forum mentioned the Deutschers in nearly 40 stories or editorials.

We did a short preview on the Run 4 Change event and had planned to cover it on April 6 until a deadly apartment fire instead pushed our Saturday morning resources in that direction.

But the criticism we received for not covering the Run 4 Change brings up a dilemma we often face in the news business.

When the weather warms and people can be outside, we see a proliferation of area events meant to bring awareness to causes, campaigns or people’s plight.

Many of these are runs or walks. We have had Saturdays where as many as three or four of these kinds of events are happening at the same time.

While we’d like to cover all of them, we sometimes can’t because of other news that demands our attention.

For this reason, we try to preview them in some way; that at least allows people who might be interested in taking part or raising money the chance to do so.

Ironically, many of these events are meant to attract media so as to bring wider awareness to a cause, so we understand how our failure to cover the actual event can be frustrating for organizers and participants. For that reason, we always welcome groups to submit photos or letters from their event that we can in turn publish.

It was upsetting for us to be accused by letter writers of not caring about the Run 4 Change. Allison worked at The Forum for many years and many of us, including me, considered her a friend.

Our colleagues have deep connections to our communities and the many efforts meant to help make our lives better.

We aim every day to acknowledge those efforts and make them part of the public record.

Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum.

Reach him at (701) 241-5579 or mvonpinnon@forumcomm.com