The goal of my fellowship at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute has been to explore how journalists might find new uses for and maximize the dormant advantages of analog media by “thinking like artists.” As an artist who happens be a former Associated Press reporter, I’ve thought often about ways these two professions overlap — one of them being whether art and journalism should even be called “professions” in the first place. Perhaps art and journalism should be called “practices,” which we learn only by doing and that, ideally, evolve through rigorous self-examination. Both share a commitment to social relevance and reinvention.

My particular focus was the newspaper as a physical object: what can it do that online editions can’t? Just to consider the “object-ness” of the newspaper puts us in art territory. What’s it made of? What’s in it? What color is it? What size? What texture? How does it move and fold? What does it smell like? Who uses it? What’s its intended purpose and, beyond that, what else can you do with it? Artists of all stripes, from painters and photographers to ceramicists and weavers, spend their life’s work investigating these kinds of formal questions about a medium as a way to honor it, subvert it and advance the conversation around it.

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