Reporters and PR pros unite! I think I’ve found some common ground for us to converse and agree upon one thing—the power of the media and all facets of the professions that collectively contribute to its history — from reporters, editors and photographers to public relations professionals and citizen bloggers.
Last week I took a few days off to visit family in D.C. and be a complete and total tourist. After a day of monuments I was ready for something else to make my trip complete. I asked my 1,700+ Twitter followers for recommendations and was intrigued when @MileHighSoapBox encouraged me to visit the @Newseum. My aunt, a former PR and publishing professional, suggested the same, completely unprompted. I had to learn more.
The Newseum is six floors of, wow. I simply don’t know how else to describe the experience. A history room houses hundreds of archived front pages from the earliest days of printing to the present. You can read about each World War, Jesse James, the Titanic, U.S. women earning the right to vote, Columbine High School, Princess Diana’s death, Osama bin Laden being shot—the list goes on and your mind races at how the media has shaped our perceptions of the world’s greatest triumphs and most heart-wrenching disasters.
Move on to rooms that dissect the rise of “fake news” thanks to the star power of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert; spend somber, difficult moments in the 9/11 memorial area where every front page from around the world on 9/12/01 is displayed and a video screen loops journalists’ emotional reactions from covering the terrorist attack as it unfolded; interact with a computer program that explains the current state of free vs. controlled press across the globe and what that means for citizens of the countries where speech is not free and reporters are in grave danger.
I’ve grown up in PR and despite what some media professionals think of our side of the story, I have tremendous respect for what the media does. I feel privileged to say that I help shape a tiny fraction of what people consume on TV, in newspapers and magazines and on blogs. Take for example the national F as in Fat report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health that was released last week. I left work on a “PR high” that I am part of a team who put local obesity experts in the spotlight to better educate Coloradans on the health and economic crisis we face if rising obesity levels are not reversed.
The Newseum inspired me to read, watch and listen more closely to the stories of today because they will, without question, shape our future. I consider myself lucky to be in a media-related field and urge anyone with a planned trip to D.C. to carve out a few hours to visit the Newseum. I do not think you will leave disappointed.