【媒库文选】美新闻业危机 新闻博物馆大限将至

2020-01-15 14:47   参考消息网  

Washington's Newseum Nears Final Deadline Amid Crisis in US Journalism

美新闻业危机 新闻博物馆大限将至

David Smith 戴维·史密斯

Joke's on you, journalists. The only thing that ends up in museums is when there's no use for them any more. The air and space museum is a perfect example. Once we landed on the moon, the space race was over. We may as well have Scotchgarded Neil Armstrong and hung him from the ceiling. And so, the construction of this museum fittingly marks the end of the news.”

These were the words of comedian Stephen Colbert in a video message recorded for the grand opening of the Newseum in Washington in 2008. The museum was hailed as a $450m cathedral of journalism, boasting 15 galleries and 15 theatres over seven floors at one of the world's most exclusive addresses between the White House and US Capitol.

But Colbert's jokey monologue was prophetic. The debt-ridden Newseum is nearing its final deadline. At the end of this month it will shut its doors for the last time, becoming a glass and steel white elephant – and an almost-too-obvious metaphor for the crisis facing America's newspaper industry.

The museum opened with fanfare on Pennsylvania Avenue 11 years ago after moving from Arlington, Virginia. It was both a treasure trove and something of a grab bag. Star exhibits include myriad historic newspapers, a section of undersea telegraph cable from the 1860s, microphones used by former president Franklin Roosevelt for his “fireside chats”,a steel door from the Watergate break-in, broadcaster Tim Russert's 2000 presidential election whiteboard (“Florida! Florida! Florida!”), a section of the 360ft antenna mast from the World Trade Center destroyed on 11 September 2001, Pulitzer prize-winning photography and a memorial to 2,344 journalists who died reporting the news.

There were also temporary exhibitions, lectures,thousands of classes and programmes, a display of today's front pages (which will survive posthumously in digital form) and some charming touches including newspaper misprints embedded in tiles in the public toilets.

It chalked up 10 million visitors and, for some journalists, was a place of pilgrimage and inspiration.

But for others, the Newseum was a vanity project that rambled beyond its brief. Artifacts included 12ft-high concrete sections of the Berlin Wall and an exhibit about US presidents' pet dogs.

And financial headaches were compounded by a hefty admission fee. Some may have balked at paying $24.95 plus tax when they could cross the street to the National Archives, housing the US constitution and declaration of independence, or the National Gallery of Art, with the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in North America, and visit free of charge.

Speaking at the Newseum's last public event, its chairman, Peter Prichard, admitted he and other founders had overreached. “We thought big,” he told the audience. “We wanted to make an impact and so this was a very ambitious, visionary project.”

There were other trends at work. Prichard said:“The development of this museum coincided with the digital hurricane that swept over old school traditional media. Newspapers large and small were decimated, fairness and objectivity in news reporting deteriorated or in some cases disappeared, and some politicians found that blaming journalists was an attractive political vein to mine. So the traditional media, a natural base of support for the Newseum, was left economically weakened and held in low regard by the public.”

The Newseum still hopes to find a new, downsized home in the Washington area. Nossel, who has visited often, added: “It just feels like an emblem of these troubled times when truth is kind of hanging in the balance we're actually more dependent on credible news than ever before.”












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