There is no question that next week’s midterm elections will arguably be some of the most important in modern history.
Fueled by polarizing times in our country, these high-stakes elections that put both the House and the Senate up for grabs have been made more important by the issues Americans become aware of daily. This would not be possible if it were not for the journalists that make it their civic duty to keep the public informed.
These journalists, from the local to the national level, help us to vote consciously at the polls on Nov. 6, and during future elections. John Micek, a seasoned editorial and opinion editor for PennLive, attended a panel discussion on the Shippensburg University campus last Wednesday evening alongside faculty panelists to discuss the stakes presiding over next week’s elections.
Even though news organizations are an essential social institution, the recent trend of conservative politicians and their supporters accusing news organizations — and specific journalists — of being “the enemy of the people” has led to deep distrust toward these organizations by a large group of Americans. This distrust has become so bad, in fact, that supporters of this divisive rhetoric have gone so far as to threaten news organizations with harm, such as the pipe bomb scare at CNN’s New York office that occurred the same day John Micek spoke at Shippensburg.
As a journalist, Micek expressed his take on these tensions while working in his valuable profession. “I’ll do it anyway,” Micek said after a student asked a question about how these tensions affect his career. “It energizes me in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time because it makes me feel more valuable in what I do.” Even with this adversity, Micek continues to do what he and other legitimate journalists are passionate about- equipping citizens with the truth and using facts to do so.
In the First Amendment of the Constitution, our founders included the right of the freedom of the press. This freedom, established alongside the freedom of speech and every other freedom we have as Americans, was vital and necessary then, and still is today. The fact that our polarized society would normalize efforts to delegitimize this freedom is simply un-American. Micek said, “I know my editorials won’t always change a reader’s mind about who they should vote for, but it’s still horrifying.” In saying this, he alluded to the fact that journalists are being targeted for practicing their constitutional freedom as Americans.
There is still a week left until the midterms, and I urge everyone to consciously vote. We have heard this before. However, the stakes are too high to let hysteria and fear overcome peace and equity. We have the responsibility as Americans to do the right thing, and John Micek and journalists across the nation are fighting passionately to make sure we vote sensibly and support candidates for the right reasons.