Monday, January 11, 2016

Experience The Wonders Of The Newseum

A recent vacation to Washington, DC led me to some amazing places, including The Newseum.
Sure, you think The Capitol Building, The White House, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, The Smithsonian, and all kinds of historical sites, major museums, politically significant establishments and trade associations when you look at our nation’s capital.  But the Newseum is something worth visiting.

The Newseum is impressive in every way, even before you step foot in. The windows of the ground floor facing out to the street feature the front pages of dozens of newspapers.  It gets changed daily.

The building, which showcases history through the eyes of the news media, has many interactive activities.  My kids loved getting filmed while reading from a teleprompter and video flowing in the background as they imitated being newscasters reporting on real events.

One floor featured original newspapers, where you can see how the front page marked significant events like presidential elections, the moon landing, Space Shuttle explosion, assassinations, Wall Street crashes, etc.

Perhaps the exhibit that brought the most emotion was one on 9/11.  I lived in New York City during the real events and this exhibit brought back the emotional ups and downs of that time.  I filled with tears as I watched a short documentary of how some of the TV crews captured the events as they unfolded.  I tried to explain to my almost eight-year-old daughter what 9/11 was. How do you explain evil to innocence?

The six-floor structure is a modern marvel, with lots of video screens and informative displays about journalistic ethics, the dangers faced by journalists, how the media covered historical events like the Vietnam War, Lincoln’s Assassination, and the Civil Rights movement. They even had a cute display about how the pets of presidents were covered by the media.

The topics this place could cover are endless, as the media covers the world and all facets of life, from sports and science to celebrities and parenting. As a news junkie and PR practitioner I really valued the museum. I especially liked how it showed a map of the world and identified where there is freedom of the press – and the parts of the world that still need work.

"The mission of the Newseum is to champion the five freedoms of the Frist Amendment through education, information, and entertainment,” said the pamphlet that welcomes visitors.  Indeed, it is dedicated to showing the power, responsibilities, and challenges a free media operates under.

What it didn’t get into however are the threats to the news media.  They come from the money, and power of these individuals and entities that run the media. Additionally, the dying advertising model that traditional media runs on is being challenged by online media.  Digital media poses many challenges to “regular” media.

One thing is clear, every media type has its time where it’s shiny, new, and powerful and then it dies down, makes room for another type, and repeats the process.  In around 1900, newspapers ran the national discourse on politics and news.  Then came radio, television, cable TV, websites, blogs, podcasts, social media, apps, and streaming video. What’s next?

The Newseum is highly recommended to students and practitioners of mass media.  It is really meant for anyone – those who create or consume today’s news.  So, that’s everybody!

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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