During election season, the role of journalism in a democracy is even more important. Voter guides can be useful sources of information but when it comes to candidates, there are better places to find information on them.
In the official guides, candidates submit their own statements about who they are and why voters should consider them. This is akin to reading statements written by a seller about why you ought to buy a product.
A vendor has a vested interest in people buying their product in the same way a candidate has an interest in people voting for them. Having a stake in outcomes such as these compromises objectivity.
This is why reading a wide variety of independent product reviews and analysis of candidates helps voters make educated, unbiased decisions.
Analysis and fact-checking of this kind must come from a variety of news sources not affiliated with any particular candidate to ensure their interests are not intertwined.
Sixty-two percent of Americans see traditional news sources as biased, 44 percent believe they are inaccurate and 39 percent think news sources spread misinformation, according to a Gallup poll.
This very perspective is why it is so important to gather information from a range of sources and political affiliations.
Using the media as a tool to make informed decisions helps democracy. Even if news sources are thought of as biased, that is all the more reason to gather information from a variety of sources and synthesize a perspective based on the sum of multiple views.
Journalists often risk their lives to report the truth. Since 2010, 262 journalists have been murdered worldwide, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
It is this fact that reinforces how important information is. In the words of “Nineteen Eighty-Four” author George Orwell, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”
Candidates will deliberately present a skewed image to the public because they want to win.
Ninety-one percent of adults believe voting is important and 73 percent view it as convenient, according to the Pew Research Center.
If this information is true, then why did only 58 percent of eligible voters participate in the 2016 presidential election, as reported by PBS Newshour?
You don’t have to trust your government, and it’s alright to hate the system and the rules in place, but that’s not an excuse to do nothing.
Democracy is hard. It takes effort. Its very foundation rests in the hands of an informed and active populace. If people fail to engage, then democracy dies.
If you love the U.S., vote. If you hate the U.S., vote. Don’t just sit there and complain about the way things are changing or how they never change without doing something about it.
If you don’t vote, you aren’t a patriot. Even if you aren’t one, failing to vote means you aren’t willing to work for any of the changes you so obviously want in order to be proud of the country you live in.
As U.S. citizens, we are given to the right to vote and choose who we want to represent us. Not utilizing this right means you have no grounds to complain when you’re upset with the representatives in office because you didn’t take the time to simply fill out a bubble next to a name on a ballot.
Don’t be a bystander, be an active participant in democracy.
Election Day is Tuesday, and all ballots postmarked no later than then will be counted. There is a ballot dropbox for Whitman County outside of the CUB.