Newseum provides first amendment perspective

Now, more than ever, D.C.’s Newseum serves as a hub for the history and importance of journalism.

“The mission of the Newseum is to champion the five freedoms of the first amendment, and we do that through exhibits, through programs, and through education,” said Scott Williams, Newseum’s chief operating officer.

Annually, the museum receives over 800,000 visitors, half of them students.


“It’s a museum that really celebrates all of our freedoms… more than anything, it surprises people by just how much we have in the Newseum, and how long it actually takes to tour,” Williams told What’s Working in Washington.

The Newseum is different from Smithsonian museums. “[Visitors] cannot imagine that another museum — that’s not a Smithsonian — could compete on such a level… we have a lot of stuff as well, so we’re not America’s attic, we’re America’s soul,” he said.

When it comes to first amendment’s protections, Williams said the Newseum was important because “one thing that’s happening now, to our society, is that people are thinking about these things more.”

“Take ‘fake news’ for example. That only entered our lexicon recently. Now, when people think about news, they understand that it not being fake is super important… we just have a tiny role in making that known,” he said.

To illustate the value of the first amendment and its protections, the Newseum takes advantage of “all the best practices that museums have… so we have storytelling, we rely on to some degree entertainment,” said Williams.

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