Exploring the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
It may seem as if the nightly news leaves much to be desired these days, but the Newseum, an interactive journalism museum adjacent to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., may change your mind about news reporting. It provides a fascinating look at the press and its history by examining some of the biggest stories of our time and even allowing visitors the opportunity to be a broadcaster or a reporter. If you’re interested in talking with middle school age or older children (or simply reminding yourself) about the importance of a free press, the Newseum in Washington, D.C. is a great place to start.
REVISIT THE BIGGEST HEADLINES OF OUR LIFETIME
The Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall may have stemmed the flow of people between East and West Berlin but it did not stop the flow of news, which was smuggled around both sides of the concrete monstrosity. In the Berlin Wall Gallery, visitors step behind original 12-foot high sections of the actual Berlin Wall, look up into what was once the guard tower that loomed over the infamous Checkpoint Charlie, and relive this remarkable story through video footage and news clips.
The Terrorist Attacks of 9/11
There are so many visuals connected the 9/11 attacks that are both jarring and raw. Among them is the twisted broadcast tower that was once perched at the top the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Today it is the center of the Newseum’s 9/11 gallery which also displays an impressive array of international newspaper front pages covering the unprecedented attacks.
But this is just the beginning of what you’ll experience at the Newseum. Other exhibits include:
- An intriguing look at the press coverage around Abraham Lincoln’s assassination
- An analysis of the role of the press in covering some of the FBI’s biggest cases including the Unibomber, the abduction of the Lindbergh Baby, and 9/11
- The Radio, TV and Internet Gallery, which traces the evolution of electronic media used to cover the news
- A stunning gallery of Pulitzer Prize winning photographs
- A comprehensive gallery of front pages from around the world
- More than 30 front pages from the Civil War showing both Union and Confederate viewpoints
One of my favorites was the News History Gallery. Consisting of more than 500 years of news history, including nearly 400 newspaper front pages, news books, and magazines showcasing events like the development of the polio vaccine and the tragic murder of John Lennon among many others. It was amazing treasure trove of journalistic artifacts and I could have spent most of the day there pouring over each one.
As you explore each gallery don’t be surprised if terms like objectivity, censorship, media credibility and sensationalism as well as other issues confronting journalists creep into your conversations.
SEE IF YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A REPORTER
Test your journalistic skills in the Interactive Newsroom by preparing a front page newspaper story at one of the touch screen stations. If broadcasting is closer to your heart than print, take a spot in front of a variety of video backdrops and read a report from the teleprompter. You could be inspiring the next Lester Holt or Diane Sawyer.
On a humorous side note, the restrooms in the museum have a feature that will leave visitors laughing. Press bloopers are incorporated into the tile walls. My personal favorite comes from the Knoxville News Sentinel, “Actor sent to jail for not finishing sentence.”
One very stirring memorial that should not be missed brings up something we often forget. Reporters put their lives on the line to make sure that we know what it going on in far reaching and dangerous corners of the world. The Journalists Memorial makes sure that those reporters are memorialized.
Insightful and intriguing, and at times nostalgic and emotional, the Newseum in Washington, D.C. is a terrific museum!
Located about a mile and a half from the Newseum, the centrally located Capitol Hilton is a great home base for your family adventures and sight seeing in and around the National Mall.
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Know Before You Go
- Many of the monuments and memorials surrounding the National Mall are open 24 hours a day!
- Driving through the city isn’t recommended – walking or taking the Washington Metro are great ways to navigate the city.
- Be prepared for numerous security checks if you are visiting any government buildings!
Lead photo credit: Maria Bryk/Newseum