Friday, January 27, 2017

Photo of the Day: Understanding the News—The Newseum, Washington, DC

These are, obviously, not good times for the news business. The rise of the Internet has caused no end of financial problems. 

Now, this week, Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s diatribe to the New York Times that the media should be “humiliated” and “keep its mouth shut” reveals a level of truculence that surpasses even the Nixon administration at its worst. (The Trump administration has no need to maintain an “enemies list”; every major news organization, with the exception of Fox News—and possibly the Wall Street Journal—is surely on it.) But I’m afraid that his outburst is being welcomed all too much out there, even among people who don’t particularly care for our new President.

I myself have had my quarrels with various newspapers and TV news shows over the years. I could tell detractors of the press that the Bannon/Trump attack does not constitute a defense against biased reporters so much as an outrageous assault on freedom of expression, but that seems to cut no ice with some people.

Instead, then, I’m urging visitors to our nation’s capital to visit the Newseum, at Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street. Compared with many D.C. institutions, it hasn’t been around long—only since 2008—but it brims with more information than nearly all of them. When I visited it a little over a year ago, there were so many exhibits that I left there exhausted—and I still didn’t have anywhere near enough time to see, let alone absorb, everything I wanted.

But that’s a small price to pay to experience the many vivid examples offered by the Newseum of the essential role that the press has played through our nation’s history in holding power to account. We forget that at our peril.

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