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Charity, business and a question for readers

This week, a couple of housekeeping items and a question. First, a true housekeeping issue. Every year, The Forum newsroom accumulates a lot of unsolicited stuff. That stuff includes books, music CDs, DVDs, nonperishable food items, dolls, toys, ...

This week, a couple of housekeeping items and a question.

First, a true housekeeping issue.

Every year, The Forum newsroom accumulates a lot of unsolicited stuff.

That stuff includes books, music CDs, DVDs, nonperishable food items, dolls, toys, and all sorts of odd promotional items from near and far.

Sometimes, if we feel our readers would want or need to know about a particular item, we might report on it, but we never write about stuff just because it's sent to us.

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If we choose to write about something based on merit, and we need the item to better explain it, we buy it.

Still, public relations people send newsrooms a lot of stuff hoping it will entice us to give their item some ink.

The stuff piles up because it's too good to throw, much of it is marked "promotional use only," and our ethics policy prevents us from keeping it for personal use.

From this accumulation of stuff, we started a popular newsroom tradition.

Beginning several years ago and continuing today, everything we accumulate during the course of a year is sold off to Forum employees in a silent auction.

Money raised from this auction is then given to a local charity. More than $500 has been raised each of the past several years. This year our auction, held last week, netted more than $650.

More change on way

Based on feedback from readers since we debuted our new Money and Markets Business page Nov. 15, we're going to tweak some items on the Tuesday-Saturday page.

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The two main requests we heard about the new, more graphically interesting page? Bring back the ag futures and give us more stocks of local interest, like The Forum did before the change.

We're accommodating those requests in a retooled Money and Markets page to debut very soon. Watch for that.

Can news be deadly?

Recent stories about the

mall assassin in Omaha, Neb., remind us of the young men who earlier murdered people

en mass at Virginia Tech,

the Red Lake Indian Reservation, Columbine

and elsewhere.

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Take that with the 11-year-old boy and girl who recently planted a fake bomb in Fargo and other area kids who keep getting caught and expelled for public threats of violence at area schools.

All were seeking attention for whatever reason, and they chose a sick and perverse way of getting it.

Which brings me to a question I've been struggling to answer for some time.

When stuff like this happens - whether it be over the top in a distant place, or something like a bomb threat close to home - how might we report on it so the public knows about it but twisted people aren't encouraged by the attention we give it?

I'd like to hear your thoughts on it.

Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum.

Reach him at (701) 241-5579 or mvonpinnon@forumcomm.com Charity, business and a question for readers Matt Von Pinnon 20071209

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