“The people have a need to know. Journalists have a right to tell” is the message carried by the Newseum – America’s “most interactive museum” where five centuries of news history meet. I went in and came out blinded and impressed, but once the glaring of shiny exhibits settled down in my eyes and memory, I couldn’t let go of the feeling, that I’ve been somehow deceived.
The place is magnificent. 6-7 floors, 14 major galleries and 15 theatres, including an unforgettable 4D video experience, telling the tale of American journalism with bullets flying at you and planes crashing at your feet (its actually 3D with moving chairs and occasional breaths of artificial wind). The galleries cover journalism and news history, photography, development of news technology, documentaries and newspaper clippings.
Big and most impressive exhibits included Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery, Berlin Wall Gallery, Memorial Exhibit for courageous journalists who died on duty and a “Freedom in the World Map” by Freedom House, where Armenia is marked as “not free.”
With all its brilliance, the Newseum was somewhat disappointing. The museum, which makes a point of highlighting the importance of quality journalism, ‘people’s right to know’, had some really one-sided expositions.
Watching the samples you’d think its only Americans who fought Fascism in World War II and that it’s only the Soviets who had the nuclear bombs and threatened the world’s security.
I understand that this is the heritage of cold-war era U.S. Journalism – it was one-sided and not completely up to the notch at times. If a similar museum were to built in Armenia or Russia, it would probably be even more one-sided. But than again, how can I trust your 9/11 gallery or photos about Iraq and Afganistan wars once you’ve lost all credibility in my eyes?
Anyway, this is just a museum, and a lovely one at that. I’d say it’s a must see in Washington DC, but be careful – it’s not as journalistic as it seems.
Regardless, I’m sure I took out the right message from my Newseum experience today: “The people have a need to know. Journalists have a right to tell.”