critical thinking? J-school students and industry vets tackle the tough questions.

Author:Petrillo, Mira
 
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Q: "How can newspapers come together to create a national identity?"

A: A national identity among newspapers cannot be separated from the national identity of everyday Americans. And if there's one thing to learn from the obliteration of a unified American identity in 2016, it's that there's a whole lot of work to do to regain a sustainable and inclusive grasp on what it means to be American.

Despite the challenges newspapers have faced since the advent of online news platforms, we continue to inform this paradigm. Thus, in an age where new definitions of American identity are being sought, newspapers have the responsibility to unite across the country in taking on the hard work of digging into the stories untold, centering the voices historically unheard, and interrogating our inherent subjectivity within the news cycle.

For instance, the work that the New York Times took on in The 1619 Project to examine America's legacy of slavery presents an example of what it looks like to rigorously take on a familiar and flattening framework widespread across the country.

Where local and regional newspapers fit into this picture is by looking at how the greater arc of injustice has inflicted their communities. Through seeking out the stories particular to the community that a newspaper serves, singular newspapers across the country have the capacity to contribute to a greater movement toward the politics of difference our country is seeking.

By committing to precision of language and reflective news practices coupled with an intention to connect and serve our communities, newspapers across the country have the potential to emerge as stable ground on which American identify can be rebuilt in more expansive and life-giving ways. It isn't about universalizing all newspapers in the United States but rather requires a universal reflective rigor and an attunement to the unique committees we are all serving.

Mira Petrillo, 21

senior, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash.

Petrillo is currently studying comparative history of ideas and philosophy, and works as the editor-in-chief of The Daily at the University of Washington.

A: Given massive job cuts and advertising dollars being sucked up by Facebook, Google and others, it's easy to understand why newspaper reporters and editors aren't optimistic about the future.

My take: We can survive, and someday again thrive, by continuing to fiercely compete for scoops, deep-dive stories and compelling...

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