By Prachi Parmar
Washington, D.C is a city that is rife with possible weekend excursions.
I have been here since the first week of September and somehow after 12 weekends of almost nonstop exploration, I still have a checklist of places that I want to see. There is history from before the beginning of the nation to be seen within the city limits. The best part lies in the fact that people are able to see this history for free for the most part.
But this blog post is not being written to tout the very well-known, well-supported idea that one should come to DC and take advantage of the free sights/history this city has to offer. Rather, it is here to argue that one of the most stunning things to do in the city is actually considered “new”, and in fact costs money – $24.27 after tax, to be exact.
While I understand that paying such a comparatively absorbent cost might be a hard sell, I argue that my visit to the Newseum located on 555 Pennsylvania Ave NW was unquestionably one of my favorite memories in DC.
The DC Newseum opened its doors in August of 2008 and is a seven floor, interactive modern-day tribute to anything and everything news – ranging from generations ago to the latest news.
I argue that one need not be a news fanatic to enter. In fact, I would say if you are skeptical about today’s media and potentially disgusted by modern day news partisanship, the Newseum is an honest, sometimes uncomfortable, review of how the news has done over the years. It showcases mistakes and rewards triumph.
From the front pages of newspapers around the world that are refreshed daily and run across the border of the building to the bathroom tiles that are inscribed with faulty headlines for a little lighthearted reading, this museum has something to offer the spectrum of news consumers.
Beginning with a wide shot view of the Capitol from the seventh floor, visitors have the chance to walk down winding hallways while discovering the history of the news.
One of my favorite stops: An exhibit that allows people to look at glass encasings of preserved newspapers, some dating all the way back to the 1600’s. Among these encasings lies a newspaper detailing the USA’s miraculous triumph against Russia. Next to that, the front page of a newspaper that detailed the hurt the US felt after the explosion of the Challenger.
Other notable exhibits include a curving glass memorial to slain journalists, a room filled with Pulitzer Prize winning photographs, and a wall mural dedicated to all of the First Dogs this nation has seen.
News has two different definitions: first, the people, programs, networks that report on the stories that occur in society and second, the stories themselves.
In one exhibit, on a widescreen TV, the stories from our lifetime continuously flash, causing people to stop and reflect on the good, the bad, the hurt, the saved. Even if you hate the news and no longer engage in it, news is still happening around you. And being in this museum forces you to realize, its problems aside, how important the documentation of news is. More importantly, what things in our history that we can’t afford to forget.
It might not restore your faith in the system, but it will show you just how damn important the system is. And maybe, just maybe, it will inspire you to go fix it.