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August 30, 2010

I'm back, and the Newseum was great

an exhibit at the newseumYou know it's bad when you're exhausted after a week's vacation -- and it's only Monday.

How was everyone's week? Did I miss anything super exciting? 

I spent most of the week being a tourist in Washington, seeing museums, eating at restaurants and relaxing to the maxing. 

One of the week's bright spots was the Newseum -- the museum dedicated to news of all stripes. Have you checked this place out yet? If not, you should. As museums go, it's fairly new -- it opened on Pennsylvania Avenue in 2008 ...

Granted, you have to pay to get in (adult tickets are just shy of $20), but for a news junkie like me, it was a steal.

The Katrina (pictured) and Sept. 11 exhibits were particularly moving -- especially the soaring wall covered in front pages from Sept. 12, 2001. Being a music fan, I also dug the Elvis exhibit. The Newseum has The King's motorcycle, American Express card and rhinestone-studded jumpsuit from the Aloha Special, among other artifacts. Better still: Newspaper stories about Elvis from the late 1950s and beyond.

If you go, be sure to budget several hours, because the Newseum has a ton of information to absorb. A ticket is good for two days instead of just one, and I went back for a second day to make sure I hadn't missed anything. It's easy to overlook all the Newseum's nooks and crannies.

(Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP-Getty)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (7)


Canton Arts and Entertainment may be back from the dead, in some shape. They're applying for a live entertainment/dancing license.

The bar/lounge formerly known as Pur has plans to reopen as The Fork and Wrench (or something along those lines). A sketch of the outside, and layout of the interior plans are on Pur's front window.

I agree with everything you say, but what disturbed me about the Newseum was that a true museum should be neutral, and it isn't.

By that I mean to balance the celebrations and achievements there ought to be major exhibits on the negatives and failures: plagiarism scandals, cover ups and inventing of news, takeovers by bad guys and what that's meant for the business, and, of course, the biggest story in the news business: the rapid decline of the print newspaper.

Trouble Jr. -- Thanks for the tips! I'll shuffle down to the Liquor Board and see if I can pull some files today.

@Elizabeth -- You've got a good point. The museum acknowledged some of the failures of news coverage during the Katrina exhibit, and had a small display mentioning plagiarism scandals. It also had a wall dedicated to the fall of the print newspaper (presented as the changing face of news). But I'd like to see a larger exhibit about when news coverage goes wrong, and the impact it has. Historic flubs (besides the Dewey beats Truman) and cases of journalistic excess/mistakes is just as important as when journalists do a good job.

there's always one in every crowd.....

i went there last year, and had a blast. we only had one day, but i easily could've spent two. there's just so much to take in.

Well done, Jr.

Yeah, I gotta agree with Elizabeth. I went to the Newseum in late 2008, and it was great. Really rewarding, totally worth it. Had a blast looking at the trays of newspapers associated with landmark moments in American history. That was my favorite part. Just picking an event and then seeing all the papers. An interactive exhibit with no technology at all.

That said, when I was there, there wasn't enough dedicated to real journalism issues. The entire museum is far too celebratory. In many ways, it's antithetical to what a lot of journos demand from museums dedicated to other peoples and industries. Journalists were all over the American Indian museum a few years ago because it glossed over histories regarding settlers' oppression of the indigenous.

Jayson Blair, for instance, should not be a small footnote in that museum. Many people called him a "journalistic war criminal" when his transgressions were discovered. There wasn't enough concern represented in what was casually referred to as the transition from print to digital media. There is a great, great deal being lost right now in this country's newsgathering process across its traditional platforms, and museum-goers should really leave that museum on an uncertain note because that's where we are today.

A museum should reflect the triumphs and failures of whatever it honors. It makes for a less celebratory experience, but it's richer and, ultimately, better, I think for it.

Commentary magazine ran a big essay on the Newseum about two years, and, to date, I think it's the best review of that museum:

I worked a block away for a year and never went in-from the display outside I thought it was just a bunch of newspapers- they need to do something about that.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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