Matthew Geiger - Original Credit: Courtesy Photo
Matthew Geiger - Original Credit: Courtesy Photo (HANDOUT)

A recent high school graduate will be taking his involvement in local politics to share with the rest of the world as he departs for college.

Matthew Geiger, 18, was born in Las Vegas but has lived in Mount Airy since 2006. Geiger graduated from South Carroll High School in June. He plans to attend Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and major in economics while minoring in several fields such as journalism, history, business and political science.

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In the spring, Geiger organized and moderated a Mount Airy round table to speak with the then-town council candidates. His political involvement goes beyond Carroll County, he is also a co-founder of 71 Republic, an online news outlet powered by adult and teenage writers and reporters. The Times recently caught up with Geiger to discuss his love for politics and the future of 71 Republic.

Q: What made you want to get involved in your local town elections?

A: I began my involvement in town politics back in 2017, when the town was divided over the issue of whether or not an individual could sell firearms out of his home. I spoke and listened at town hall meetings and took note of how impactful one person’s voice on the podium was. Unlike the higher levels of government, where the gatherings are more formal and less citizen-friendly, the town hall was a safe haven for everyday people to voice and advocate for change in their community.

All politics is local. After all, Mount Airy’s Town Hall is responsible for the basic needs of every one of its 10,000 residents, from the water supply to the fire department. The change that just a single individual can make via town politics has been the driving force behind why I have and decided to get involved.

Q: Where does your passion for politics come from?

A: From a young age, I was interested in meteorology. The science behind weather fascinated me, and I always found myself watching the Weather Channel every morning throughout elementary and middle school. As I matured, however, I thought more about the impact that meteorology has on people, specifically, am I helping the most amount of people possible through being a weatherman?

That question stuck with me for a while, until eventually, I came to the conclusion that the number one way to help individuals in this nation would be to become active politically. Everyone’s lives are subjected to it, so if I can make even just the slightest change for good, it won’t be for just a select group of people.

Q: What made you want to start your news outlet, 71 Republic?

A: The modern media climate is toxic. If you turn on your television and flip to any of the mainstream channels, you will find rehashed opinion and slanted news. It’s boring, it’s dull, and it’s antithetical to creating more well-informed citizens, which is the fundamental principle of journalism. This is because the most popular media companies in our country are controlled by corporate boardrooms full of wealthy elite that are far removed from the struggles of the common person.

This is why I started 71 Republic, because soon it will be us versus the billionaires. I envisioned a news and media company predicated on the principle that the real injustices in our world were being swept under the rug by massive media conglomerates. I wanted to be a voice for the voiceless.

Q: Do you plan on continue working with 71 Republic into college?

A: Yes, without a doubt. I have spent the past three years building up what 71 Republic is today with a group of teenagers and young adults from all across the globe. I would like to spend my college years working and building up the knowledge and expertise that it will take to turn 71 Republic into a full-fledged media powerhouse.

Q: What would you like 71 Republic to grow into?

A: I’d like for 71 Republic to cover every end of the journalistic spectrum. Essentially, I’d like for it to be a company filled with unabashed, straight-edge reporting on the issues that matter while simultaneously creating deep and interesting content that touches on many of the more emotional and cultural issues our society faces today.

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In short, Walter Cronkite and Hunter S. Thompson in one company. I want to be constantly churning out objective news pieces that target and question the authority of those in power. I want to be creating videos and essays that detail the emotional struggles of those who have been left behind in our country.

Journalism takes on many faces, and I’d like to wear as many of them as possible. I want 71 Republic to go beyond the slick anchorman and straight into the heart of what is happening in our government, economy, and culture.

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