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Wasted Space May 29, 2011

Posted by Fritz in Yachts and other things that float.
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I was in Washington, DC last week escorting nearly 150 7th grade students from Ohio. It was the standard DC trip with all the usual monument and memorial stops. This group decided to include a visit to the Newseum. “A  250,000-square-foot museum of news — offers visitors an experience that blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits.”

The building is actually the second Newseum. The first was opened in 1997 in Rosslyn, VA just across the Potomac from DC. Admission was free. After 3 years the trustees decided they wanted to be in the thick of things and moved the museum to new digs just three blocks from the Capital. The Newseum’s Board hired architect James Stewart Polshek to design the state-of-the-art building. The new Newseum opened in April, 2008. It’s now a paid ticket. The group price for students is $11 plus tax. The adult  price will set you back $21.95 plus tax.

Located just off the National Mall at 6th St. NW and Pennsylvania Ave. the building’s façade is all glass allowing passersby to see Newseum patrons walking through the seven levels of galleries, theaters, retail spaces and visitor services.

The first thing that struck me upon being inside was the incredible waste of space. A seven story atrium of air wastes at least a third of all useable display space. Yes, they have a Bell Ranger news helicopter and a small broadcast satellite hanging from the ceiling but most of it is empty. Now I’m no economic genius but I’ll bet that chunk of DC real-estate was a pricey piece of land being just three blocks from the Capital and all. So to leave more than a third of your available display space to air seems like just another DC boondoggle. Couple that with a horrible layout that forces you to walk to the ends of each floor to find either a too small elevator or the emergency stairwells to change floors. Really, really dumb.

But we haven’t even talked about content yet. In my cruise through I couldn’t help feel the Liberal arrogance seeping through the displays. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck were labeled ‘radical’ in the ridiculously small amount of references to either Fox News or any conservative leaning journalist. Fox founder Rupert Murdock’s contribution to journalism was barely more than a few paragraphs of facts.

O.J. Simpson's suit

Putting their professional jealousy aside, I would think the man who has created the largest news organization in the world would rate more than a single panel in a long line of panels featuring the likes of the ‘Scud Stud’ Peter Kent and the suit O.J. Simpson was wearing the day he was acquitted.

I was impressed they included this panel

Everywhere you look the Newseum ostensibly pronounces the virtues of ‘free speech’ and the First Amendment is even inscribed on 50 tons of Tennessee marble on the building’s Pennsylvania Avenue façade. Yet, I came away with the undeniable feeling it was all for show. This empty, vacuous building reflected the values of the current Liberal media. The Newseum was created by The Freedom Forum which was formed under the direction of Al Neuharth, former publisher of USA Today newspaper. Funding was provided by a foundation started by publisher Frank E. Gannett in 1935, called the Gannett Foundation. The foundation took on the name of The Freedom Forum in 1991.

The Freedom Forum describes itself as “a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people.”

Each year, the Freedom Forum gives out the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media. Past winners include Walter Cronkite (1989), Carl T. Rowan (1990), Helen Thomas (1991), Tom Brokaw (1992), Larry King (1993), Charles Kuralt of CBS (1994), Albert R. Hunt and Judy Woodruff (1995), Robert MacNeil (1996), Cokie Roberts (1997), Tim Russert and Louis D. Boccardi (1998), John Seigenthaler (1999), Jim Lehrer (2001), Tom Curley (2002), Don Hewitt of CBS (2004), Garrison Keillor (2005), Bob Schieffer of CBS (2006), John Quinn and Ken Paulson (2007), Charles Overby (2008) and Katie Couric (2009).

Every one of those names, with the possible exception of Tim Russert, is a flaming Liberal. I rest my case.

View of Capital from Newseum roof terrace



1. Chain 4 All Blog - June 1, 2011

Foundations Forum 1991…

[…] was created by The Freedom Forum which was formed under the direction of Al Neuh […]…

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