By Lynne Brandon
WASHINGTON, DC- The hottest ticket in the nation’s capitol is the Newseum located in the heart of this politically charged city where media and news reign supreme. This is a museum, appropriately named and dedicated to the history of news. You need a ticket for this trip on media lane and it is worth every penny.
A favorite with school-aged children who were gathered in great masses during my visit, adults are equally fascinated with glimpses into history making events as well as the mediums that reported life-altering moments to the world. From the Gutenberg printing press to radio, early TV and up to contemporary phenomena like the Internet and social media, the Newseum traces all the steps that print, radio and broadcast journalists took along the path of news reporting.
Here you will see manifested almost everything in the art of telling the world the news demonstrating the importance of journalism in our everyday lives. Philip Graham of the Washington Post, said “journalism is the first draft of history.” That truth still stands and throughout the Newseum markers of history are displayed in old papers, printing presses, newspaper articles with bold headlines announcing death and destruction ranging from Hurricane Katrina to the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center
From the world’s first international reporter, Christopher Columbus who described his explorations into the New World to cyber journalists like Matt Drudge and his controversial Drudge Report, it’s a tour de force for news junkies as well as those who love learning. The fundamental tools of the trade for reporters are on display at every turn. All it took was a pen and paper for Newsweek reporter, Michael Isikoff to break the Monica Lewinsky scandal into the open.
History is housed within the Newseum from the actual pieces of the Berlin wall to doors with heart wrenching graffiti scribbled by Katrina victims. A shrine to the late NBC news great Tim Russert is hallowed ground for all who loved the hard-hitting but unbiased journalism of the former “Meet the Press” host. And, the media museum pays homage to newswomen: trailblazing pioneers like Barbara Walters, the first female TV news anchor, and Katie Couric, who in 2006 became the first woman solo news anchor. They effectively ended television’s glass ceiling.
The days of the Underwood typewriter and wall-mounted telephone are relics, replaced by new media technology increasingly used to provoke social change. Self-proclaimed citizen journalists report breaking world news via text, apps and Twitter. Change, a universal constant, always has much to inspire and empower, particularly for those gifted news gatherers who use technology in tandem with well-developed reporting skills. The Newseum validates the forces that prevailed in the past and raises the specter of what will be exhibited here in the future. Will it be the magic of new gizmos, the work-product of learned minds powered by dogged determination to find truth and tell it? Or a combination of both?