Do you remember the Newseum? It was originally located in Rosslyn, Virginia but after five years it moved to a high-profile location on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol. The new Newseum opened in 2008 and for a time seemed like a big hit. I think I saw some film there circa 2010 with Newt Gingrich and Kellyanne Conway. But the Newseum’s fortunes changed and it closed its doors on December 31, 2019 for the last time (at least at this location). The building has been sold to Johns Hopkins University.
Today someone posted a brief video of construction work at the Newseum calling it “heartbreaking.”
Your journalism heartbreaking video of the day: the Newseum being torn down piece by piece on Pennsylvania Ave pic.twitter.com/VxIoYIufbE
— Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge) May 27, 2021
I don’t find it heartbreaking at all. It always seemed to me like a monument to a certain brand of high-profile media types who were eager to remind everyone of their importance. I don’t know if Jim Acosta ever appeared there but that’s the sort of journalism I’d associate with the Newseum.
I do agree a free press is important in a democracy but people like me got started writing about the news because the people the Newseum was built to celebrate so often do a botch job of it, often intentionally. There are fresh examples of that every week and most of them get far too little attention from an industry that is eager to avoid demolishing what little remains of its public credibility. Less back-patting and more self-criticism seems appropriate.
It appears I’m not alone in feeling this way because some of the reactions to the video are pretty funny.
Damn, I must have a really really strong hearthttps://t.co/TfSC4hQVTn
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) May 27, 2021
Thoughts and prayers.
— J.T. Gilgo, Wild West Pimp (@JTGilgo) May 27, 2021
— I. Noah Guy (@Decentguyusedto) May 27, 2021
— Ozark Finesse Guy Redux (@DTReeves2) May 27, 2021
— Jeff O’Brien (@jeffobrien) May 27, 2021
They are building the Institute of Learn to Code in it’s place. https://t.co/aIQsA6VmQA
— Malaise 2.0 Honkitude (@Mr_Honkitude) May 27, 2021
Now we only have journos screeching online daily to remember how important they view themselves https://t.co/XCfnml2Rw2
— Professional Portfolio Shrinker (@cutlet_account) May 27, 2021
You get the idea. Lots of sarcasm and not a lot of tears over this. Ultimately, there just wasn’t much that people were eager to see.
As a former DC resident, I can tell you that it’s hard for a museum that charges an admission fee to compete w/ all the free museums on the National Mall. I never had a guest who was anxious to go to the Newseum. They wanted to see Apollo 11 & the ruby red slippers.
— FloridaDame (@Fantine21) May 27, 2021
There are probably 50 things I could list off the top of my head that are more interesting to see within walking distance. I mean, if you really care about the first amendment, go see an original copy of the constitution which is on permanent display 0.3 miles away!
If you walk a little father you could see the Wright brothers airplane at the Air and Space museum.
Or you could see some paintings by Monet and Mondrian at the National Gallery of Art. There are group tours of the exhibits with actual people to give you some background on the art.
Have you been to the Insect Zoo at the Natural History museum? If you have kids, it’s a must see. And it’s just one part of a larger museum that also has dinosaur fossils and lots of other cool things. You could spend 3-4 hours in this one museum.
The Museum of History and Technology has some great exhibits as well. Or forget the museums and visit the Lincoln Memorial or the Washington Monument.
There are also two very good Shakespeare theaters within walking distance if you like that sort of thing.
Honestly, you could spend a full week in this small part of Washington and not see everything that is worth seeing. The lack of the Newseum is really not a heartbreaker.
Imagine building an ivory tower to yourselves and charging an arm-and-a-leg for entrance while you can visit exhibits worth seeing at the Smithsonian museums for free. It’s really a microcosm for journalism in general while its status seriously degraded over the last few years.
— Jeffrey Philistine (@TejasGator) May 27, 2021
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