[fifth blog, travel course, Concordia University-Texas]

Does the Newseum accomplish its goal to enable visitors to learn the role of media and understand the rights and responsibilities that come with the freedom of expression?

I believe the Newseum accomplishes its goal with ease. The mere subject matter of the Newseum communicated this point.

The gallery of Pulitzer Prize-winning photos reminded me how valuable images and stories from the “ground zero” of a story are to someone learning the truth of what actually happened. For example, one photo showed American soldiers guarding a Vietnamese highway as thick smoke billowed over the road. A naked Vietnamese child ran toward the camera; the photographer recalled her screaming, in Vietnamese, “it’s so hot!” Her clothes were burned off by napalm gas.

While some may deem the photo inappropriate for public media in America, it’s quite obvious that the photo was a valuable educational tool. I stood in front of it imagining myself, standing on that highway, seeing a girl who’d had her clothes burned off by napalm and thought, “God, this is what war is like.”

This is why freedom of the press is important. It (ideally) communicates truth and contributes positively to the collective intelligence of a society. We have the right to know the truth, and the responsibility to communicate it accurately, without bias. This is the message I got from the Newseum in the first ten minutes of my visit.

What Newseum exhibit takes you offguard/doesn’t seem to fit in with communication at first glance?

Actually, the giant piece of the Berlin Wall didn’t seem to fit in at first glance. I soon realized, though, that I was viewing it through a historical lens instead of thinking of how it related to communication. As soon as I began to read the Newseum’s detailed description of communication during the division of Berlin, I understood why it was in the Newseum instead of the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Freedom of the press is, I think, a completely positive concept for a society. In fact, I have a hard time understanding how anyone could argue against it without glorifying the potential perversion of truth. The truth is what mass media—in the journalistic sector, not in entertainment—is devoted to presenting. Who wishes World News Tonight’s Charles Gibson would let the government review and edit his material before reporting it to the public?

You can view some of my favorite photos from the trip on my photoblog.

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