NEWSEUM in Washington DC – The Story Behind the Story
Update: Unfortunately, the NEWSEUM is set to close by the end of 2019, so if you have not been there yet, make sure that you check it out. I definitely plan a visit before it closes.
What is the NEWSEUM Washington DC?
On my recent visit, I was invited (aka I got a free ticket) to the NEWSEUM. I had been there before a few years ago, but since I liked the museum so much back in 2011, I was looking forward to visiting it again. The NEWSEUM documents the history and present of the Press, Media and Reporting. Well that actually sounds pretty boring now, does it? The NEWSEUM is anything but boring. The museum shows your the behind the scenes of reporting, news and media. It explains how reporters find and follow the stories that fill your evening news, the newspapers and magazines you read and the blogs you follow online. This museum doesn’t just lead you through important events of World History, but shows you the people that brought those events into your home and often risk their lives in doing so.
We all remember where we were when certain News stories broke. I was celebrating my niece’s second birthday, when my then-boyfriend called me and told me to turn on the TV. I did and one of the first things I saw was the second tower collapsing. 9/11 happened. It was a story that no reporter ever wanted to tell, but they had to. While thousands of people ran for their lives, they ran towards the towers. Not to get their name out or to sell copy, but because it was a story that needed to be told. Sharing information, right there, on the spot.
The NEWSEUM also shows the moral dilemma that many journalists face. Unfortunately, happiness doesn’t sell. So journalists often document horrible, sad and sometimes hopeless events.
Many people despise journalists, because they point their camera at the victims, rather than actually “helping”. There is a photograph of a young child in Sudan. The child is starving. In the background, you see a vulture. Kevin Carter, the photographer, took the photo and chased the bird away. Then he left. He was instructed to not touch the children, to not transmit diseases to them, as even the slightest infection could kill them. Carter won the Pulitzer Prize for the photo in April 1994. 3 months later, he committed suicide.
Journalists are in those places to tell the story, but they can only do that objectively if they detach themselves to a certain degree. Their job is to tell the story because the world needs to see. They risk their lives, so we can learn from our mistakes in the future because we have documented our past.
When I visited the NEWSEUM, I have to admit that I cried several times. Not just the stories that were documented made me tear up, but also the stories about those stories. Understanding the way journalists work makes us better News consumers as well because we now also understand the story from the journalist’s perspective. We become better in judging the objectivity of a story, learn to question things we hear and read and become better informed about the things that are going on in your neighborhood, country and the world. While it was certainly an emotional visit, I learned so much and I highly recommend going to the NEWSEUM. This was my second visit there and I hope to go back in the future.
My Favorite Exhibits
Berlin Wall Exhibit
I was born in Germany and grew up less than 45 miles from the border to East Germany. While the museum didn’t tell me anything that I did not know already, it still gave me goosebumps as I looked at the images of the people standing on the Wall in Berlin in November 1989, their lives changed forever.
Pulitzer Price Photography Exhibit
This exhibit doesn’t just show you the photos of all Pulitzer prize winners but also tells the story behind the image. It shows you how deceiving an image or a News clip can be if you don’t know the story behind it.
The 9/11 exhibit is very touching and moving. They have a large piece of debris from the World Trade Center, showing the Front Pages of Newspapers from around the world the day after behind it. There are also videos and interviews about the Journalists that reported about the events that day from Manhattan. If you have small children, you might want to skip the videos, because it is rather graphic.
Map of Press Freedom
It is very interesting to see which countries in the world not only allow free reporting but actually promote it. Who wins? The countries that win pretty much all the lists nowadays: Scandinavia.
Dogs in the White House
I am a proud dog mom myself, so seeing the Presidents of the United States with their pooches made my heart melt. I wonder if there were any cats in the White House though? Do you know?
Take a look at the NEWSEUM website to find out what their current traveling exhibits are.
INSIDER TIP 1: If you want to take some great pictures, head up to the viewing balcony on the 6th floor. You can take amazing pictures of the US Capitol Building and the Mall.
NEWSEUM Opening Hours & Tickets
Daily 9 AM to 5 PM. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Adult: $ 22.95 | Senior (65+): $ 18.95 | Junior (7-18): $ 13.95 | Kids (<6): Free
They also have a 10% discount for AAA members and students, as well as free admission for NEWSEUM members.
INSIDER TIP 2: The best part is that you can visit the NEWSEUM 2 days in a row, so you might take advantage of that if you did not get to see everything during your first visit.
Directions to the NEWSEUM
Address: 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC, 20001
If you are using public transportation, you can take the Green or Yellow line to National Archives, Penn Station, Navy Memorial and then head East for one block on Pennsylvania Avenue. The NEWSEUM is on the corner of Pennsylvania Ave. and 6th St.
Have you been to the NEWSEUM in Washington DC? What was your favorite exhibit?
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