Choosing Sides

Impartiality is simply no longer an option, even for an old-school journalist

By Michael M. Barrick

LENOIR, N.C. — I’ve chosen sides.

I was trained, in the days when you could smoke and keep a pint of whiskey in the newsroom, that at as a reporter and editor, I was to remain impartial and objective. Up until a few years ago, when I found myself in “Frackistan” – the natural gas fracking fields of northern West Virginia – I generally subscribed to that philosophy.

No longer.

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For the second election cycle in a row, I am serving as Campaign / Communications Director for Art Sherwood, the Democratic candidate for North Carolina Senate District 46, which includes Avery, Burke and Caldwell counties. I am also the Political Director for the Caldwell County Democratic Party. Why? Impartiality is no longer an option for me. While it’s not news, 2016 reminded us that elections matter. How we care for the poor and vulnerable, how we protect the sacred earth which sustains us, how we protect human rights, how we care for the alien among us, how we defend voting rights, and how we treat each other in the body politic and the “public square” of social media, requires that I choose a side.

So, be looking for an essay from Art soon. Others may follow. The same with other candidates. Also, advocacy organizations. In all instances, a disclaimer will be clearly displayed.

For those who question whether or not this aligns with our motto of being “The Independent Voice of Western North Carolina,” I simply say, I am thinking for myself. I don’t care what my journalism professors taught me. They did not anticipate Donald Trump and a Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly that ignored the Voting Rights Act, attacked those in the LGBTQ community, and cut vital services to cut taxes for the rich. These are not North Carolina values. So, I’m with those working to protect and champion Tar Heel values of cooperation, civility and effective, clean government.

In short, I have decided it is time that I live, not just write about, the North Carolina motto.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2018. Photo by Daniel von Appen on Unsplash