…or so says the Newseum, a museum showing the triumphs (and pitfalls) of the journalism industry, from print papers to photos, with the goal of defending the First Amendment (notably, freedom of press) across the country and around the world.
I recently visited this D.C. museum with my boyfriend, and, needless to say, my trip was one to remember.
I’m relatively new to the field of journalism. I didn’t explore the industry in high school, or even consider it as a major until halfway through my freshman year of college. The decision to completely change career paths was a huge (and scary) one for me, and, at times, I had second thoughts. That all changed after my trip to the Newseum.
I looked at the section of the Berlin Wall in awe, snapped some shots of the First Amendment Freedoms exhibit, and of course, stopped to see the History of News 4D film (see photos above). They were all cool exhibits, but my takeaway really came from the short clip on the reporters of 9/11/01, the cars patterned with bullets, and the journalist memorial wall.
9/11 still makes me emotional – even though I was only almost-4 years old when it happened, and I didn’t know anyone who perished in that dreadful day. Something about it makes me uncomfortable, and I’ve been known to shed a few tears. I suppose this isn’t too surprising for someone with so much patriotism, but I digress. I’d always thought of the police officers, the firemen, and, of course, the people in the buildings and on the planes – the ones who gave everything and even the survivors. But never had it crossed my mind to think about the reporters. I watched the short film of the journalist’s memories, and I think my boyfriend would tell you that I was crying (although I think I was just very focused). They were running toward the wreckage, some right into a tumbling building, to get the shot – to share with the country and the world what was happening – to record history as it happened. Who else was going to do that? How were we going to remember the fallen? How would we have scientifically examined exactly what happened if the journalists hadn’t gotten the entire incident on video?
Journalists don’t just run toward burning buildings, either. They venture through war zones, taking on spraying bullets, terrorists, bombs, and everything in between. The job is dangerous, and, at times, life threatening. Yet, for the love of sharing news with the world, so many individuals choose to make it their livelihoods. I looked up at the Newseum’s wall of photos of journalists who have died on the job, and I realized the seriousness of my chosen profession.
I realized that the field of journalism isn’t about glitz and glamour. It’s not about busy newsrooms with doughnuts and coffee. It’s about the action – it’s about recording history, whatever the cost. It’s dangerous, it’s necessary, and it’s exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life.