A colossal museum dedicated to giving a worthy place in history to those who cover history as it happens opens the doors of its impressive new home.
By Joseph Guinto
Deadlines -- journalists live in fear of them. Which is why it’s a little surprising that the Newseum, a $450 million facility dedicated to the evolving field of newsmaking, missed its hoped-for opening date of late 2007. But this wasn’t necessarily bad news, because even though it was six months behind schedule when it finally opened on April 11, the mammoth, 250,000- square-foot building just off the National Mall in Washington, D.C., made a spring debut. And, for all the impressive content within the Newseum -- including a news helicopter that dangles from the giant atrium and a broadcast tower salvaged from the World Trade Center in Manhattan -- its idyllic location on the now-blooming Pennsylvania Avenue is equally impressive. From the 3,000- square-foot terrace, seven levels up, visitors can see an unmatched panorama of Washington, including many of the Mall’s architectural masterworks and the Capitol dome, with the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court behind it.
Despite that serious mission, the Newseum is hardly staid. The facility bills itself as the “world’s most interactive museum,” and there are more touch screens here than you’ll find in a dozen Apple stores. Want to know what’s going on in Florence, Alabama, today? Go to an interactive kiosk and call up the front page of the Times Daily, one of almost 600 newspapers from around the world that electronically transmit their content to the Newseum. Want to know what it’s like to be a TV reporter -- or, perhaps, a Daily Show correspondent? Stand in front of a video screen with a backdrop of the Capitol and read your script off a teleprompter.
All of that is certainly more fun than spending a few hours in your hometown paper’s newsroom. Trust us. We probably used to work there.