Because Washington, DC is less than two hours from Philadelphia by train, too often my trips to the District are all work and no play. Happily, last Saturday, I had a few free hours to visit the Newseum, which I’d wanted to experience since it opened in April of 2008.
With 15 theaters and 15 galleries, the Newseum highlights news and journalism, spanning time and geography, in an interactive way. On the concourse level, for example, visitors can see and touch a piece of the Berlin Wall in the largest display of sections of the Wall outside of Germany.
A few steps and decades through time later, visitors to the museum (until early January 2014) can see the role of a personal photographer in shaping the image of a politician — in this case through the camera lens of Jacques Lowe and the public and private moments he captured of John F. Kennedy to create the idea of Camelot.
There are two other displays on JFK at the museum, including a video wall with highlights from his presidency and an exhibit that chronicles the unprecedented media coverage following his assassination. The exhibit offers a place for visitors to share where they were when they heard JFK was shot.
I was struck by one particular note that read, “I was not born but still wonder how different life would be if JFK lived.”
But the museum covers more than just the early 1960s. The FBI exhibit features artifacts from famous cases of the past century, including the Unabomber’s cabin
and other items from terrorist attacks like the shoes of the shoe bomber. But, for someone of my generation, nowhere is the presentation of news related to terrorism more poignant than the 9/11 Gallery.
The Gallery centers around a communications antenna from the World Trade Center and highlights the challenges journalists faced in reporting the story.
Remarkably, on the day we visited the Newseum, the September 11th attacks were also part of “Today’s Front Pages” on Level 6, as the spire had just been placed atop One World Trade Center.
“Today’s Front Pages” displays up to 80 front pages from around the world, including all 50 states and Washington, DC. Each morning, the pages are transmitted electronically to the Newseum, enlarged, and printed for presentation.
Our time at the Newseum, whether spent on exhibits related to Civil Rights, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs, or new media, was fascinating. But nothing struck me more than the World Press Freedom Map on Level 3.
The map demonstrates how press freedom varies across the world as determined by Freedom House. I was stunned to see that the vast majority of people live in countries with media that is partly free (colored in yellow) or not free (colored in red).
The Newseum celebrates the First Amendment, especially Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech, and as I walked through the doors to the Greenspun Terrace,
six stories above Pennsylvania Avenue, the stunning view of the Capitol Building
made me even more grateful to live in a country colored green on the World Press Freedom Map.
Spending time at the Newseum reminded me that regardless of who is reporting on current events
or what form social commentary takes,
the news is definitely NOT black or white…like this Marble Pound Cake! (Adapted from food.com.)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons brewed coffee
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter a loaf pan; line the bottom of pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper.
- Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl; set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Add eggs and almond extract; beat until creamy. Add the dry ingredients until just combined. Add heavy cream and process until smooth.
- Pour half of the batter into a separate bowl. Add cocoa, vanilla extract, coffee and blend until smooth.
- Scoop batters into prepared pan, ½ cup at a time, alternating plain and chocolate. Smooth and swirl with a knife.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Drop temperature to 325 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven to cool. Invert the cooled cake onto a plate, remove the parchment paper, and invert again to serve. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.
DISTANCE TRAVELED FROM PHILADELPHIA TO WASHINGTON, DC: 136 miles