- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Remember this one: "When one door closes, another opens?"
Reverse that action. Just as the Washington Monument finally opened its newly refurbished doors to tourists last weekend, another monumental tourist attraction will close its revolving doors to tourists this weekend.
To my dismay, the Newseum in Rosslyn is closing Sunday. This treasure trove dedicated to the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate will not reopen until 2006, when it moves into its new prime location on Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
That's four whole years without access to my favorite museum in the Washington metropolitan area. I feel like a news junkie about to enter a rehab center.
How will I make it without my Newseum fix
Just a few days left. I've been trying to get anybody I care about across the Key Bridge, the Memorial Bridge or the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge this week to view this rare site before they lock the doors.
I never miss an opportunity to go to the Newseum or the Freedom Forum. You can't imagine just how beautiful the nation's capital is until you've seen the breathtaking panoramic view of the city, its suburbs and the intersecting Potomac River from the 22nd-floor terrace of the Freedom Forum building. They'll have to kick me out if they let us up there during tomorrow night's farewell party.
The Newseum is an invaluable teaching tool. The interactive newsrooms especially a TelePrompTer or the birthday banner are a hit with youngsters.
I have no clue what I'm going to do next semester to teach my Catholic University students journalism history, or how important a free press has been to the development of this Democracy and democracy worldwide, without their trip to the Newseum.
I can't tell you how many times my students have tepidly trekked over to the Newseum expecting a dull display of facts and artifacts only to come back enlivened. They invariably turn in papers filled with astounding accolades about how their tours affected them. Many have said they were moved to tears during their tour.
I know of what they speak. Even I still get choked watching the 15-minute film "What is News?" narrated by Walter Cronkite and shown on the 20-by-40-foot high-definition screen in the theater. It speaks to my heart about why I got into journalism in the first place: to seek the truth and to tell the truth and by so doing, hopefully, to make a difference.
This is not always an easy task. As the death of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl painfully reminds us. Freedom Park also features the towering Freedom Forum Journalists Memorial honoring 1,500 journalists and photojournalists who gave their lives in the pursuit of the truth. Danny Pearl's name will be added by the time the structure is resurrected at its new site.
I'm awestruck by Freedom Park, where among the International Icons of Freedom is the bronze casting of the jail cell door behind which Martin Luther King wrote his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," and the bronze casting of the ballot box that recalls the first election in which black South Africans were allowed to vote. My students are always taken with the original sections of the Berlin Wall and guard tower.
I'm fascinated with the front-page showcase that displays headlines from a representation of the nation's 1,500 and the world's 6,000 newspapers. I'm dazzled by the 126-foot screen Video News Wall, a panorama showing breaking news from CNN to News Channel 8 like a giant ticker tape.
I have participated in forums in the broadcast studios as a panelist and a member of the audience in conjunction with my activities with the Trotter Group and Leadership Washington. But I could spend hours in the News History Gallery with its three-dimensional News History Wall that walks you through 500 years of press and human history.
Want history about black Americans during Black History Month? You'll find plenty in the Newseum of all places. The stories of Ida B. Well's anti-lynching campaign. The words of freedman and abolishionist Frederick Douglass who founded the North Star in which he wrote, "I will not be silenced," can be found here. Along with Freedom's Journal, the Crisis and the first Ebony magazine published in 1945 by the John H. Johnson family are the faces of modern-day journalists like Bernard Shaw, Ed Bradley and Charlayne Hunter-Gault.
The power of the press is unmistakable when you read from stories written by Amelia Bloomer advocating for women's suffrage. Or muckracker Ida Tarbell, who exposed the oil monopoly at the turn of the century in McClure's magazine.
Last semester, my students were assigned to tour the Newseum the week of the September 11 attacks. This semester, most of their papers were about the moving images and words they saw in the News Globe Gallery display about that day.
The Steel News Globe circled by a running news banner is made up of 1,841 newspaper nameplates.
"A free democracy cannot exist without a free press," it is said.
Don't listen to me.
Go see for yourself. For all the bad press the media receives and sometimes deserves, quite frankly the Newseum's exhibits, displays and interactive technology demonstrate the greater good of our much-maligned profession.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide