Rest of the Story

Bryan Gallegos—please print this column! Why? Because we’re all going to miss him and, he’s too humble to blow his own horn. So, I’ll toot for awhile if you don’t mind.

By Pat Merriman

I don’t have much experience with journalism. Dedicated readers will remember that I agreed to take over for my friend Maggie Piatz when she got sick back in 2014. It’s been my great fortune, and privilege, to do two things up here—be elected your states attorney and write this weekly editorial. When I started, the Dunn County Herald was losing ground with the loss of Maggie and readership was dropping. It seemed like everyone wanted to complain about our local paper but, no one really wanted to help.

Then came Stacey Swenson who, for the next 3 years, kept regular office hours, waded through a hotly contested election cycle and grew the circulation. It was still lean pickings on local material and, honestly, I’d never written anything before and, had no idea what I was doing. Maggie and Stacey were great, “Just write about what interests you. People have no idea what a states attorney does and we think they would like to know.”

Politicians said if you wrote about “real” stuff, people would get offended and take it out on you. After all, the Fourth Estate is ruled by the left—keep away! But, I’d always had a fair relationship with the media even though, frankly, over the last 35 years, journalists (like Stacey and Bryan) became extinct. Replaced by liberal propagandists who stifle opposing viewpoints.

If you weren’t politically correct, and “with the program”, you had zero chance of getting your side of the story out. Especially if you were a traditionalist (I don’t like the term “conservative”) who didn’t like the way radical group-think was trashing our country’s treasured values and institutions in favor of anarchy and chaos. I’m not going to preach…I, like my friends, just didn’t think our viewpoint mattered anymore.

Bryan was different. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye but, he believed in balance. Where Stacey pretty much let me have my say because no one else wanted to write, Bryan wanted it to be about locals. I had been longwinded, unfocused and, undisciplined. That changed in the summer of 2016. I first met Gallegos in Dunn Center at a fundraiser for Dakota Brekke.

Uneasy because Stacey was gone, newspaper publishers/editors were liberals and my days in the newspaper business were probably over. Bryan sauntered up and said, “So, you’re the guy that I’ve heard from a few needs to be fired.” Well, that was quick. I just sat there and waited for the axe and, he smiled, “Call me Monday. We need to talk. Your stuff is too long and it lacks focus.”

And, with that, Gallegos has done for me what I’ve tried to do for over 27 years with my martial arts students. He taught me what it means to be a real writer—discipline. Not just an attorney who writes long-winded briefs. So, when journalist Bryan Gallegos announced that he’s leaving next month, my heart sank.

Not because I’m losing a friend and mentor but, because this guy (over the last 9 months) has turned local sports and stories into our hometown paper with the best circulation and advertising in this newspaper chain. Bryan, you’ll be sorely missed. Readers, give him a call (701-764-5312), thank him and wish him well. I hope whoever’s up next has half the integrity he does! Good luck, brother!

Pat Merriman is the Dunn County State Attorney. He is a photographer and also officiates high school and college athletics events in the area.

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