Jess, aged 13, writes: We loved our quickfire visit to Washington DC. Over the course of three days, we saw lots of iconic monuments, visited four different museums, and discovered that some restaurants put sugar on bread! We spent an entire afternoon in the Newseum, and very much enjoyed it. It is such a unique and fascinating museum, all about newspapers and the media, and it is one of the best museums I’ve ever been to.
There is so much to do at the Newseum that it’s difficult to mention it all! Firstly, our family walked around downstairs.
Robert, aged 10, says: I was able to explore an exhibition that included a large slab of The Berlin Wall and a stone guard tower. All the videos and pieces of text were about how lives were on both the left and right sides of the wall and the extreme measures they would go to get to the other side. It was fascinating as I had never learnt much about what happened in Germany at that time and I was amazed and quite sad to find out what happened.
I loved watching films about sport, people and other things in the many theatres including a great one in the massive 4D theatre which was about the most dangerous news reports and stories that ever happened. It was brilliant to see all the winners of The Pulitzer Prize Photograph award in a special gallery – some of the pictures made me feel quite emotional as they showed lives that were in no way as nice as ours.
Jess: Seeing all of these Pulitzer Prize photos was extremely haunting, and I will remember the accompanying video forever. I was astonished at the lengths photographers will go to in order to get a good picture. This was a recurring theme throughout the museum, especially in the section about the Twin Towers.
I must have spent over 40 minutes looking around the Twin Towers exhibit, as it was fascinating and very emotional. I saw the antenna on top of one of the buildings before the accident, and looked at the collection of papers from around the world reporting on the story. The part of the exhibit that struck me most was a video, showing real footage from the event, and interviews from people involved in broadcasting it to the public. I was amazed by how the number one priority on these peoples’ minds was to get a good camera angle, take the best videos, and interview people, instead of running away and getting to safety.
Next to the Twin Towers exhibit was a small room about the shooting of President Abraham Lincoln. The room looked at how the paper had reported the story, and the various updates throughout the day as more information was revealed.
There was lots in the museum about terrorism, and how it is reported. We also went through an exhibition about the Vietnam War, which interested me as I didn’t know anything about it. They exhibition asked the question: “did the press lose the war?”, and the powerful images, shocking posters, and provocative videos really made me think about the public’s attitude towards war.
There were lots of interactive activities in the museum, and mum and I played lots of games to do with the ethics of reporting. We played quizzes and races which were all a lot of fun.
Mum also enjoyed the exhibits on race relations and the personal stories of journalists who literally put their lives on the line for a story.
Robert says: I really enjoyed taking the role as a reporter in the Interactive Newsroom where you picked a subject and was then videoed while reading a text on that topic. I did it around three times.
There were also lots of funny videos about politics, and I watched them with dad. There was such a variety of things to do, from learning the history of some famous cartoons to finding out all of the American presidents’ pets.
Jess writes: The entire museum was fascinating, as it included so many things I had not thought of before. We were asked questions on events such as 7/7, learnt about the First Amendment and how it relates to the press, saw the day’s front pages from every state and across the world, and saw a memorial to all the journalists who had been killed while reporting.
Something that stood out to me was the World Press Freedom Map. It is a massive map, with countries coloured red, yellow, or green, depending on how free their press is. I was shocked to learn that only 17% of the world’s population live in a country with a free press, and that not all the countries in Europe were coloured green. I was amazed that the only countries with a free press in Asia were Japan, Israel, and Taiwan, and was surprised that Mexico did not have a free press at all.
Overall, the Newseum is such an interesting, exciting, and shocking museum which really made me think about the power and impacts of the press. It is a perfect visit for all the family, as there is such a diverse range of activities. If you are in Washington DC, I definitely recommend a visit. In fact, you may need to go more than once as there is just so much to see!
The Newseum is open. It has regular special events, so it’s definitely worth checking out its website. It’s located in a brilliant spot, between the White House and Capitol, at 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC, 20001. We went via the metro (details are here). It’s open daily from 9am to 5pm and costs $22.95 per adult (aged 19 to 64) and $13.95 for 7 to 18 year olds. Children younger than that are free. Tickets are valid for two consecutive days and there are refunds if you book online.
Watch our video of our stay in Washington!
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