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Students Walk Through Modern History at Newseum

By Max Maximilian Hoffman

Trekking thought the six-story Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue seemed more like a stroll through the past 150 years than a field trip on media for Averett journalism students. It gave a look into both the darkest horrors and shining milestones of modern history, but from the view of people in that moment. Images and words frozen in time are how the media write history, and the Newseum is just one big encyclopedia.

No exhibit greater exemplified the news' role in recording history in the making than "Covering Katrina." The top floor display told of the tales of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans and the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. during Hurricane Katrina. After the city was ravaged and underwater, it became the task of these local newspapers to not only venture into the city helping stranded residents, but also to continue spreading current news. Even without basic utilities or undamaged shelter neither publication missed an issue.

Another highlight inside the quarter-of-a-million-square-foot museum is the largest section of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany. Standing next to eight oppressive concrete slabs towering overhead was quite humbling. Their graffiti told the tale of freemen in captivity and the looming guard tower spoke of failed attempts to escape the iron curtain. Around the display a timeline followed the news coverage over West Berlin during the lifespan of the wall.

The Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery was the one of the most comprehensive collections in the Newseum with more than 1,000 prize winning shots. Each photo is attributed to the photographer and has a quote from the photographer about snapping the picture. Many had gripping tales of war, famine, and lost families but others told of victory and overcoming struggle. Each caption, no more than a paragraph or two, did something the image alone couldn't: it put you in the moment.

The Newseum turned out to be way more than just a museum about news. It was a walk through the making of history.

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