Not a lot of professions get their own museums. There’s no teacher museum, no firefighter museum, no cop museum-and that’s kind of a shame. Those jobs take a lot of hard work and deserve respect and gratitude.
Fortunately for me, though, I get to have my own museum-and it’s pretty stinkin’ awesome.
The Newseum in Washington, DC is a journalistic playground-a reporter’s mecca, if you will. The 450 million dollar facility is devoted to the people who make the news, watch the news, and report the news.
But, it’s not just for journalist junkies-by focusing on news and society, the Newseum actually presents a creative, atypical, comprehensive look at American history.
The six-story glass building, which is within earshot of the Capitol, is a bit daunting when you first step in. I couldn’t help but think about how it’s a bit ironic that this shiny, beautiful, imposing structure is representative of a crumbling industry.
But enough with the negative-I consider myself a “glass half full” guy anyways.
One of the coolest things has to be the day’s front pages from across the world, which is located on the top floor. You can’t get a more current, up-to-date snapshot of what’s happening across the world anywhere else. I could have easily spent an hour skimming the pages-dissecting and analyzing the use of color and text, but a time restraint caused me to push on.
The Newseum also deserves credit for not sensationalizing or over-idealizing the history of journalism. There are full exhibits featuring newspapers that “got it wrong,” bias in TV news, sensational journalism, and tributes to John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Saturday Night Live.
The only sugar coating in the Newseum is within their marketing. Their website, pamphlets, and advertising all loudly proclaim that they are “the world’s most interactive museum.” If by “interactive,” you mean “has the most theaters” then maybe.
I was impressed by the number of films, theaters and mini-theaters that were on display-but not so impressed by the interactive elements. I guess it’s kind of funny to shoot a fake stand-up or try to give the day’s weather on air or play a “be a reporter” video game-but it didn’t do anything for me.
The “4-D” theater, with it’s moveable seats and incredible visual presentation, was pretty awesome though.
While taking my time in the moving 9/11 section, I noticed a quote in large print up on a wall. It read something like this:
“Only three types of people run towards a fire, not away from it: police officers, fire fighters, and reporters.”
While I wouldn’t lump those three together, it did make me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside. So, thanks Newseum.
I left the museum with a sense of pride about being a reporter. In some ways, I kind of felt like fast forwarding the last two years of college and jumping right into that workforce.
But I guess right now, I’m just hoping there will be a workforce to jump into-or a tour guide at the Newseum might be my other option.