Every time Jinnifer Trubey checks her phone, another news story pops up about President Donald Trump.
“It’s something about Trump, something he tweeted … or how (Nancy) Pelosi wants to impeach him,” Trubey said.
“I don’t mind it because I like to stay in the know, but it seems like every five minutes there is another tweet that Trump is making.”
As the U.S. heads toward Election Day 2020, Ohioans across the state said they felt both swamped and abandoned by the media, uncertain what information they could trust.
There were too many stories about the political fighting, many said, and not nearly enough on what the major candidates planned to do if elected.
Trubey and two other Northwest Ohio residents who participated in a Your Voice Ohio Zoom meeting Oct. 8 said they thought the media was biased and, sometimes, making up stuff.
“It used to be there were very good journalists, good reporters. You knew the facts, then you could make up your mind,” said Paulette Gunn, a 74-year old who lives in the Toledo suburb of Holland. “You didn’t have all this slanting. It’s like the whole world is lying to you.”
Gunn said she gets most of her news from local TV stations and Facebook. If a story interests her, like COVID-19, she said she digs into it on the internet to find out how much of it is true.
“In the beginning (of the pandemic), I was really on board with everything,” Gunn said.
She wore a mask. She maintained social distance.
“Then I got more and more research done and got on to the page to feel we were being led on … then I became extremely angry,” she said.
Gunn ditched her mask and politely refuses to wear one even now when she shops or visits her family, rejecting scientific evidence about the threat of COVID-19 – which has already killed more that 5,000 Ohioans – and that masks are necessary to stop the spread of the disease.
People who live in her 55-and-older community seem to be doing the same, Gunn said. She’s only seen one of about 150 residents there wearing a mask.
“I don’t like being pushed around. I don’t like mandates. I don’t like to be ordered to do what I have to do,” she said.
When asked what they wanted to know about Trump and Biden before the election, Trubey, Gunn and Mikel Grenier, a Bowling Green church receptionist, listed these questions:
• What are Trump and Biden’s positions on federal funding and Planned Parenthood?
• Is it possible for Biden to pay for his health care and education proposals without raising sales or other taxes on people who make less than $400,000 a year?
• If Trump brings the troops home, how will he make sure every soldier has a job that pays enough to support a family?
• What charities, beyond what is disclosed on tax or government forms, does each candidate support?
Regardless who the next president is, the trio of strangers from Northwest Ohio know what they want to see after the election.
Trubey, who is helping her three young daughters with online schooling in Toledo during the pandemic, said she hopes Ohio “opens up a little bit more” to help the economy and to allow her children to get back inside classrooms for better learning and socialization.
Gunn said she wants all pandemic restrictions lifted entirely.
“Little children at home and trying to teach them over the internet is just stupid,” she said.
Grenier, meanwhile, wants state and federal laws that prevent landlords from evicting someone for being LGBTQ.
A few cities and towns in Ohio have local laws protecting LGBTQ housing rights, but there’s nothing in most of the state, Grenier said.
But until any of that happens, they’re each hanging onto hope.
Gunn said she finds it in her faith.
Grenier finds it in church and community.
And Trubey finds it in her children.
“My kids give me hope. They push me to be the best version of me I can be,” she said.
As if on cue, the door behind Trubey opened during the YVO Zoom meeting and one of her daughters came in, crawled up on her lap and said, “Mama.”
Amanda Garrett is a reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal and can be emailed at [email protected]
This is one in a series of stories on issues Ohioans say are most important in this election year. More than 50 news outlets are collaborating in the project under the umbrella of Your Voice Ohio, the nation’s largest sustained, statewide news media collaborative. In five years, Your Voice Ohio has brought more than 100 journalists together with more than 1,300 Ohioans for discussions on addiction, the economy and elections. Your Voice Ohio is managed and coordinated by the Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civic engagement organization. The project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and Facebook. The Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes designs and facilitates the dialogues and digital forums. Retired Akron Beacon Journal managing editor Doug Oplinger directs the media work and can be reached at [email protected]