Obviously, jurors play an essential role in the jury trial system. I have handled trials where an inadequate number of jurors nearly led to the Sheriff going to a nearby cafeteria to conscript unwitting citizens to serve. Such a thing is patently unfair for the citizens enjoying their lung, not to mention for the criminal defendant or civil party who will have some unhappy campers sitting on his/her jury.
The right to a jury trial is probably the most crucial safeguard we have as citizens. That's why they call it "jury duty". Hopefully, the publicity from these events will help prevent further absences.