365 days of print explores the impending extinction of the newspaper as an object and a symbol/anchor of the fourth estate. Every day for one year, I will make something in response to the published newspaper. The product may be in the form of an object, photograph, collage or digital image. It will reflect the subtle or ironic interplay between instant information and a static medium, between the growth of collective social consciousness and the limitations of words and images on the printed page. In essence, my work will be a response to the ultimate meaning of the demise of the daily newspaper and its replacement, keeping in mind the words of James Madison "A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it," he continued, "is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy." For most of its history, the United States depended primarily on newspapers to provide that information.
In our society, the importance of news has shifted; some would argue that it has been elasticized or else devalued. As the blogosphere replaces the daily newspaper as an instantaneous purveyor of information and a dynamic forum to exchange opinions, newspapers become archival objects moments after their printing. Already, online, the same newspaper piece that has appeared black on white in print has been updated, corrected or even replaced on the web. Traditional media can no longer compete and newspaper stories no longer fit the dictionary definition of news in Merriam-Webster as a report of recent events: previously unknown information. In many respects, we have created an endless source of updated information online, a bottomless pit of patter. We cannot possibly consume all the news and commentary published online, and while few people have the time to read the entire newspaper, even fewer can keep up with the minute-to-minute updates and running commentary of current affairs on the web.
The personality of the newspaper has also changed, as it attempts to mirror content online. Its emphasis on accuracy falters as The New York Times proves with its expansive list of daily corrections as it tries to imitate the tone and the edge of bloggers. Ownership of content becomes democratic: with photographers no longer owning the rights to their published photographs, ceding them to the search engine. Loyal readers complain that they have to read The Economist to get a complete and balanced view of a complex issue.
The move to digital has its sociological implications as well. As we phase out reading a physical paper, our social experience of news changes as well. 365 days of print will enable me to investigate the impact of this transformation. How does the digital divide affect us? How, when and why do we share information? What is the impact of a news print photograph that we can touch versus a series of images that we can scan? Has the collaborative spirit of comments on the Internet replaced the definitive voice of the lone reporter? Is the blogger more or less independent than the expert academic whose piece appears on the opinion page? How much do newspaper readers actually read? Does news have to be chunked?