Home » Blog

Blog

Stop the Presses! The Newseum is Here!

| Comments Off on Stop the Presses! The Newseum is Here!

You can see the leather bomber jacket that Ernest Hemingway wore when he was a war correspondent.  

Richard Harding Davis, or his ghost, has thoughtfully provided his monogrammed cigar case and lighter from the Boer War, just before he was almost killed when he joined Teddy Roosevelt’s Roughriders for that charge up San Juan Hill (it was actually Kettle Hill, but who’s quibbling?). He used to live on South 21st Street in Philadelphia.

Edward R. Morrow’s broadcast artifacts from the London Blitz are mounted with the reverence of a Vatican exhibit.

The eerie remnants of the Oklahoma City bombing seem as recent and as chilling as the initial television breaking news bulletin that alerted us to what was happening.

The Unabomber’s half dog house, half shack has been brought there, plank-by-plank.

A short film recalling the horror of 9/11 and the Twin Towers is perpetually standing room only. I passed on that. Who needs any reminders?

 

Totems and Scriptures

It’s all there – the totems and icons and scared scriptures of the craft of reporting and presenting the news.

Washington, D.C.’s latest major museum attraction, the Newseum, at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, at Sixth Street, right in the granite heart of museum row, with a killer view of Capitol Hill from the stunning roof-level terrace, does not disappoint.

That’s what you can expect when 14 of the richest corporations and families in the American news and broadcast business pool their money, resources and enthusiasm to create a state-of-the-art homage to the way they make their living.

Local representation includes Comcast ($5 million) and the late, lamented John S and James L Knight Foundation ($25 million), the philanthropic arm of the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain that used to own and operate the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News back in the Gene Roberts and a Pulitzer Prize-every-year era. How quickly we forget.

 

The important numbers on the Newseum include:

  • a $450 million price tag
  • 1000 old and rare newspaper front pages
  • 130 inter-active exhibits
  • 15 comfortable theaters
  • two television studios
  • 14 galleries of some type
  • seven atrium levels
  • one suspended-in-air news helicopter
  • 250,000 square feet of usable space
  • one dual level Wolfgang Puck restaurant
  • one food court (really, really pricey)  
  • one enormous chunk of the Berlin Wall, complete with watchtower and searchlight and graffiti-scrawled slabs

 

From Whence It Came

This present incarnation of the Newseum opened in February 2008, to sort of limited fanfare. The primary revolving exhibit is all about G-Men and The News, with the emphasis on J.Edgar Hoover, old-time gangsters like Machine Gun Kelly and the exploits of those hat-wearing “government men.”

That will change, of course, depending on trends and availability of materials. Much of what’s there seems to have been loaned out by the museum at the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), across town. It’s great stuff, lavishly mounted, but “inter-active” exhibits always seem to me to lose something important in the translation. Visitors just have to deal with that at the Newseum.

 

The original Newseum opened in 1997 in Arlington, Virginia. Back in those days it was free to the public, reasonably well-attended and definitely off-the-beaten track. One of the involved journalists who was put off by that location and by the apparently modest ambitions of the place was the late Tim Russert. He was among the journalistic movers-and-shakers who pushed for a downtown location.  

As always, be careful what you wish for. The old Newseum had a friendly, cozy scale to it. The new one, in contrast, is all about steel-and-glass “windows-on-the-world” design and new wave architects making statements. If you happen to visit during a sunny day and find yourself anywhere near that seven story atrium, better keep your sunglasses on.

Just to prove that the sensibility of journalists never really takes a holiday, several of the publications of contributing organizations have written reviews sounding attacking these architectural and design shortcomings.

 

In place of a conventional mission statement, the Newseum lists a collection of “core beliefs” that come down heavily, as expected, on the importance of protecting and expanding the guarantees of the First Amendment and on the irresistible connection between daily journalism and the “first rough draft of history.”   

There is nothing particularly edgy in the Newseum, but just about any writer or reporter would acknowledge that the institution has its heart in the right place.

 

Film at 11

via Flickr | by wfyurasko

Much of what you can absorb and learn at the Newseum comes by way of film or video. In fact, there seems to be an almost equal weight assigned to daily newspaper reporting and to 24/7/365 broadcast news. With benefactors like Fox’s News Corporation, Cox Broadcasting, NBC, ABC and Bloomberg, it’s not hard to see why.

What does seem to be a glaring oversight, however, is the near total absence of anything of size or value about the role of the American magazine. With two magazine heavyweights like Hearst and Time Warner also counted among the generous contributors, it is difficult to see what, if anything, they got for their money. Even with the Newseum, there is still a definite need for a great American magazine museum.    

 

What we used to call “newsreels” march visitors through the 20th century, with not all that much available on the 21st century so far. You get all the Vietnam and Civil Rights Movement you could wish for. Walter Cronkite is his reassuring eternal self as he intones the grandeur and relevance of the Race to the Moon. President Lyndon B. Johnson appears to die before our eyes as he surrenders to stress and cancer and the tool that Vietnam takes on him and his country.   

Great as these history lessons are, though, there is something distinctly melancholy and troublingly distant about them, including Vietnam. It all seems so tame now, so manageable now, almost quaint, as we compare those dangerous, but far simpler times, with the contemporary horror of Iraq, Afghanistan and a disintegrating economy. No doubt journalists of the distant future will feel exactly the same way about the problems and tribulations that seem so urgent to us now.

 

If there is one place where the Newseum scores a hands-down knockout is has to be in the category of original film. They’ve utilized a process called “4-D” to provide a sweeping overview of journalism history from the American Revolution through mid-20th century. This kind of special-effects film-making, complete with “4-D glasses” is far better than the best Imax movie you have ever seen. The only problem is that the Newseum doesn’t offer visitors nearly enough of this “4-D” wonderland.  

 

The Newseum is located at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, at Sixth Street, Washington, D.C., Northwest.

Tickets range from $20 for adults, $18 for students, seniors and military people, $13 for young people from 7 to 18 years of age, to free admission for little kids.

Group rates and memberships options are available. Please call 888-639-7386 for further information. The Newseum is open from 9am to 5 pm during the week, with Saturday hours.

Why I Love Government Surveillance

| Comments Off on Why I Love Government Surveillance

I think it’s only fair to warn the National Security Agency and the rest of …

herb">herb

| Comments Off on herb
the advocate herb deninberg

Herb Denenberg, 81, has left us and with his death one of the unique voices …

Buying “Undecideds”

| Comments Off on Buying “Undecideds”
undecided voters 2012

Spending $6 billion on people who can’t make a decision may be wretched excess.
This fall the …

Philadelphia on the Sports Marketing Map

| Comments Off on Philadelphia on the Sports Marketing Map

Jerry Wolman read the rune stones early; dreamed the vision and was one of a handful of people who were centrally responsible for putting Philadelphia on the marketing map for big league sports.

Media Mistakes

| Comments Off on Media Mistakes

Canadian journalist and author, Craig Silverman (editor of Regrettheerror.com), has been one of the strongest proponents in holding the media accountable for its many mistakes.

Private vs. Public Education

| Comments Off on Private vs. Public Education

Unlike public schools, private schools do not have to exist. But the choice will come down to where you feel more comfortable putting your child.

A Hip that’s Almost Ready to Hop

| Comments Off on A Hip that’s Almost Ready to Hop

The last time, I was preparing for my second full hip replacement. When I say “we” I mean Baby Boomers, of course, but the club for joint replacements is anything but exclusive.

The Message Men

| Comments Off on The Message Men

Don’t look back in anger, lamenting the message that was never sent, as was the case with Katrina, or the message that was mis-communicated like the rueful, “Mission Accomplished.”

Obama’s New Deal Fails

| Comments Off on Obama’s New Deal Fails

Roosevelt needed the event of World War II breaking out to create our national myth of full employment. Obama won’t get that.

Petraeus’ Last Stand

| Comments Off on Petraeus’ Last Stand

The lessons of Custer and his 7th Cavalry are as relevant today as they were in 1876. Let’s hope that General Petraeus remembers them.

An American Odyssey: Custer at Little Bighorn

| Comments Off on An American Odyssey: Custer at Little Bighorn

The Little Bighorn had to happen precisely as it did, with the ensuing loss of life, for America to grow into the place that it is today. Think of it this way: for Americans in 1876, the massacre at the Little Bighorn was the very visceral twin of the attack on 9/11.

A Hip that doesn’t Hop

| Comments Off on A Hip that doesn’t Hop

I am having my left hip replaced. This is a gruesome operation. I will need blood, oxygen and the super-human skill of a surgeon.

Can Barack Obama Play HORSE?

| Comments Off on Can Barack Obama Play HORSE?

There’s something else we will also have to get used to. Obama comes from the toxic waste of big city ward political machines. There aren’t many of them left – Philadelphia, Boston, Providence, Baltimore a little bit, Trenton, Newark, parts of New York, and of course, Chicago. Stealing from the public in grand and outrageous ways is an art form in those cities.

Skip the Movie – Read the Comic Book

| Comments Off on Skip the Movie – Read the Comic Book

Comic Books have finally earned the respect they’ve always deserved; today they are valued as assets and as art.

Halloween’s Timeless Terror – the Tale of the Jersey Devil

| Comments Off on Halloween’s Timeless Terror – the Tale of the Jersey Devil

“Blessed Be . . .” is the traditional witches’ greeting on Halloween; in this case, Blessed Be the demon child of Mother Leeds.

Forget the Bailout – CEOs Need To Stop Stealing

| Comments Off on Forget the Bailout – CEOs Need To Stop Stealing

This time, in terms of money – our money – there have been so many hands in the cookie jars of corporate America that if you started arresting people for grand theft, you would run out of federal prison cells so quickly that you would have to start using tents, instead.

Sarah Palin Drops Her Puck

| Comments Off on Sarah Palin Drops Her Puck

So, where the heck is America’s new “it” mom, Governor Sarah Palin?

Philadelphia’s Guardian Angel

| Comments Off on Philadelphia’s Guardian Angel

Kal Rudman made his mark in the music business, but his generosity built the legend.

Meet the Woman Creating Our Future

| Comments Off on Meet the Woman Creating Our Future

First things first: What, exactly, are the life sciences?

They’re all the “good stuff”, explains Donna …

Hollywood Comes to Lancaster Pike

| Comments Off on Hollywood Comes to Lancaster Pike

The Bryn Mawr Film Institute specializes in independent, documentary, art house and classic films.

Backlash

| Comments Off on Backlash

By now, most of our children are safely back to their usual school-time routines. They have their books, crayons, pencil sharpeners, glue sticks and all the necessary (and hyper expensive) trapper keepers. But where do they put all of their supplies? They have to get to their homework, schoolbooks, lunch and assorted other treasures somehow.

The Wating Room

| Comments Off on The Wating Room

You force yourself to believe that news will come. You try to numb yourself against any possibility that the doctor’s words will in any way fall short of “fine.”

Rebuilding a Culture

| Comments Off on Rebuilding a Culture

U.S. Army Captain Laura Peters is making a difference abroad and at home.

Emmys of Last Resort

| Comments Off on Emmys of Last Resort

The New York Post may have had the best idea of all – instead of bothering to recap what may have been the most disappointing Emmy Show of all time, the tabloid mocked the whole process and created its own category of Emmys for outstanding performances that should have been given out. If only the show had been that amusing.

Sarah Palin Shoots Her Moose

| Comments Off on Sarah Palin Shoots Her Moose

Why does most of America know far more about the Palins and their squalid soap operas of lives than we do about what John McCain will do to fix the economy?

3 Goals of Copywriting

| Comments Off on 3 Goals of Copywriting

At the heart of every ad, there are only words. Words tell the webmaster what to upload. Words tell the director what to film. Words tell the musician what notes to play. Without words, there is no communication. And copywriting is the persuasive use of words.

Press Releases

| Comments Off on Press Releases

Do People Still Read Press Releases?
They do, but the uses and the value of print press releases have changed significantly over time.

Copywriting Basics

| Comments Off on Copywriting Basics

Copywriting is the art of persuasion. It is the job of the copywriter to entice their readers and close the sale. In this article, we will review some basic strategies to make your copy more effective.

What Is Crisis Communications?

| Comments Off on What Is Crisis Communications?

In the event a high profile organizational setback or emergency occurs, what is know as the crisis communication mode takes over. At these crucial times, the corporate communications office immediately becomes the face and voice of the organization, especially when dealing with the media.