Executive Editor, VP of News

I joined The Press in January 2014. Before that, I was executive editor at the Observer-Dispatch in Utica, NY. I’ve worked in newsrooms in many markets in my career, including NY, TX, GA, VA and NC. I have a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse.

During Monday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders asked reporters what they were thankful for.

ABC News reporter Cecilia Vega said that she is thankful for the First Amendment.

The exchange made me think about what, as a journalist, I am thankful for this year. For a refresher, I reread the First Amendment, which says this, in its entirety:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

A lot of ground is covered in that short paragraph but I’d say I’m grateful for all the freedoms it protects, especially freedom of the press.

I’m specifically thankful for the existence of local and national media, who are dedicated to following the truth, wherever it may lead. It has led us to some strange and uncomfortable places this year, but all the more reason we need the press doing its job.

I’m thankful for the talented staff of The Press of Atlantic City and The Currents and Gazettes, for continuing to provide insight into the politics, economy, public safety, health, sports and daily life in South Jersey. With more demands and fewer resources than ever, our team has delivered a wide range of quality coverage, in print and online, to readers this year.

And I’m thankful to you, the readers, for engaging with The Press and caring about what happens in our community. Many of you call me or send emails or message me on Facebook. The conversations run the gamut, from kudos to questions.

There are the handful of folks who respond to my columns or a Press decision with fury or sarcasm, which really doesn’t do much to move the conversation forward (though it may make the reader feel better, so for that relief to them, I am grateful).

Others, such as long-time reader Ed, choose to talk about the issues — and listen to the response. Ed and I don’t always agree on things — how The Press covers politics or social issues, for example. But we have some lively and respectful discussions, for which I am truly thankful.

As Americans, one of our greatest strengths is our ability to listen to and consider opinions that are different from our own, even when we vehemently disagree with the other side. It is both our right and our privilege as citizens to be exposed to different viewpoints and perspectives.

The term “snowflake” has been tossed around a lot in the last year, as a reference to hypersensitive people who resist having their world views challenged. They often live in an echo chamber of their own beliefs and surround themselves exclusively with opinions that agree with their own.

I’m thankful for the people in our community who are strong and open-minded enough to consider different perspectives. It takes patience and practice to do this well. I personally do not always listen as well as I would like. But, I know this skill is necessary to uphold a democratic system that protects so many freedoms we hold dear.

Engaging with the world, rather than shutting it out, is the way we can move forward — with gratitude.

Kris Worrell is executive editor and vice president, news.

609-272-7277 kworrell@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressWorrell