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Eaton: Answers to questions you’ve asked about the DeOrr Kunz case

DeOrr Kunz Jr.

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A few days after we launched EastIdahoNews.com last July, a cute little boy from Idaho Falls went camping in Leadore with his family and disappeared.

I reached out to the parents of DeOrr Kunz Jr., (Vernal) DeOrr Kunz Sr. and Jessica Mitchell, and asked if they wanted to speak about what happened. They came to our studios and we posted the interview on EastIdahoNews.com.

Within hours, our website nearly crashed as people from around the world began watching and sharing the report. A vigil was held, volunteers offered to search and national media picked up the story.

Since that day, nearly nine months ago, thousands and thousands of you have followed every new development in the search for DeOrr.

It’s an emotional situation that relates to all of us. That’s why EastIdahoNews.com has tenaciously and unapologetically covered every aspect of the story.

Recently I’ve been asked some questions about our coverage and I want to explain why it’s been so in-depth.

Question: Why are you covering the story more than other media? You seem to post more details and information than other outlets.

Answer: We’re covering this story because a toddler who lives in our community is missing and someone likely knows what happened.

We’ve also been amazed at your response every time we post something new. Not a day goes by that we don’t receive a request for an update. It’s obvious you care about this story and so do we.

Question: You post a lot of unedited interviews and transcripts related to this case.

Answer: The beauty of the Internet is we aren’t limited to space or time. We post longer unedited and in-depth interviews because we want to present as much information as we can about the story.

We have spoken to more people involved in this case than any other media outlet. We want to be as transparent as we can and share as much as we can with you. We feel it is not our place to interpret the news – rather, we want to give you as much information as possible and let you do what you want with it.

Question: Are you tainting a potential court case by sharing so much information about this case?

Answer: This question could be asked about any case that receives lots of publicity. There has always been some tension between the First Amendment and a defendant’s right to a fair trial. The judicial system works to balance these competing rights.

We asked a handful of Idaho judges, prosecutors and law enforcement for an opinion on our coverage. Overall, none of them expressed any major concerns and many applauded our work.

Media coverage can create challenges in finding an unbiased jury and should anyone be charged in this case, a judge has the option of moving the trial.

A child from our community is missing. We maintain the public has the right to know as much as they can about him and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.

Question: Why have you posted interviews with Philip Klein, the private investigator working on this case? He isn’t law enforcement and doesn’t have “official” information about what’s really going on.

Answer: Klein was hired by an extended family member to investigate this case on behalf of the Kunz family. Multiple fundraisers were held to pay Klein’s service fees and we, along with other media outlets, covered these fundraisers.

Why would we not follow up with what he has found during his investigation? Many of you donated money to the fund and want to know how that money is being spent.

Klein speaks highly of local law enforcement and local law enforcement have told me they don’t have any issues with him.

And so you know, we have been in contact with law enforcement every step of the way and they are aware before we post anything related to this story. We give full consideration to any concerns brought up by law enforcement.

Question: What do you think happened to DeOrr?

Answer: I don’t know and it’s not my job to speculate or guess. My job is to report the news. I’ve had many on and off-the-record conversations with almost all of the parties involved.

Everyone has treated me and EastIdahoNews.com with respect and we have not received any major complaints from any of the key players about our coverage.

The investigators should be applauded for their hard work. They are consistent, focused and want to find DeOrr. That’s the same reason we are committed to continued coverage this case – we simply want DeOrr to be found. And until he is, our coverage won’t stop.

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