December 16, 2019

METAPHOR ALERT: Newseum Closing — Washington, D.C. Museum Offered a Lot, but Was Flawed from the Start.

Almost every exhibit at the Newseum paled in comparison to Smithsonian counterparts. It offered an exhibit on the Civil Rights movement that was dwarfed by the National Museum of African-American history. The Newseum offered a cute display of the first dogs of the presidents, but it looked like small potatoes compared to the National Portrait Gallery’s complete set of official presidential portraits or the American presidency exhibit at the National Museum of American History. Galleries of Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoons and photographs are terrific, but . . . the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery offered their own world-class photo exhibits for free.

The Newseum offered world’s first satellite newsgathering vehicle, while the Air and Space Museum across the mall offered lunar landers and the Spirit of St. Louis.

Where would you rather spend an afternoon? Which museum is going to wow the kids? That has more to do with the museum’s closure than any overall public view on the value of journalism.

Whatever the Smithsonian’s descent into political correctness in recent decades, its artifacts are viewed pretty benignly by the viewing public; the men in the aforementioned lunar landers “came in peace for all mankind,” after all. Whereas the Newseum, which John Podhoretz dubbed  “The News Mausoleum” a decade ago, is an ode to people whose attitude towards their customers is best summed up by the late Ginny Carroll, an editor at Newsweek when it was still owned by the Washington Post:Yeah, I’m in the Media — Screw You.”

In addition to its exhibits, perhaps the Newseum could have kept the lights on a bit longer if its gift shop sold items that people wanted to buy. Flashback to last year: Newseum caves to outraged mob of news reporters, removes “Fake News” T-shirts from gift shop.

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