Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Freedom of the Press

We rode our bikes to the Newseum yesterday. This was the first time that I had been inside their new building, and it was very cool-- six levels of exhibits dedicated to journalism and the first amendment, with lots of really fascinating stuff.

Years ago, when the Freedom Forum opened the first version of their museum across the river from where they are so prominently located now, the principal of my school called me to his office. It was my second or third year teaching, and he had an opportunity for me. Seems there was this new thing called the Internet, and the ABC/Disney people were trying to set up a website with news content for kids, by kids. Their idea was to find kids to cover local newsworthy events and then to have them write them up and submit them to be published on their online news page.

We were one of the first schools in the area with a webpage of our own, and they contacted us to see if we had any students willing to cover the dedication of the Newseum. The international exposure that they were offering to our young writers was unprecedented at the time, and it was with genuine excitement that three students and I picked up our press credentials on the morning of the ceremony. Vice President Gore was the keynote speaker, and we were in the third row for his speech, although, as news of the day, it was being projected on all the huge video screens throughout the museum, too. Afterward, we were invited to a reception and then escorted on a tour of the whole place. The Möbius nature of being the press that covered the opening of a museum dedicated to the press was completely lost on the kids I was with-- but who could blame them? They were on deadline.

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