Thursday, April 17, 2008

Newseum Visit: I "perform" as a TV Reporter



Although this blog is mainly about the performing arts, I sometimes consider museum openings and visits as closely related to the “arts”. And the News and journalism can turn into art, as the news builds up into narratives and stories spanning decades – we call it history – but when witnessed and recorded it becomes personal drama, a story, the genesis of plays and film.



I bypassed the free opening of the Newseum last Friday but visited today, after buying a year’s pass. (Too bad I’m not 65 yet). And I got to be the performer, with a two minute “Be a TV Reporter”. I selected the Supreme Court, and read a prompt about Justice Scalia’s new book and the suasion of other justices, before adding my own addlib comments about COPA and the CDA. It's harder to read prompts smoothly than one would think; there is a natural tendency to speak too fast. No place for stage fright.

I’m going to need the pass to see everything, which occupies six floors. I walked past the remnant of the Berlin Wall. I headed for the 9/11 exhibit on the 4th floor, where some wreckage from the WTC and Flight 93 is present, as well as the 9/11 headlines from all of the world’s newspapers framed on a wall, as if in a Front Page restaurant.



I then headed for the First Amendment exhibit on the same floor, and found the five specific rights in the First Amendment (high school history and civics teachers should make students be able to name them). There was a most interesting wall on student (and teacher, implicitly) free speech, with notes on several cases, such as “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”. There was coverage of LGBT student speech, and one placard even brings up the question of school systems interpreting “fiction” written by students (or teachers) and distributed in print or posted on the Internet (even outside of school). The specific cases look important, and I will be following up on them with some research in comparison to my own problems in 2005 as a sub (documented in July 2007 on my main blog).

I saw three of the short films: “Running Toward Danger” (about 9/11); “45 Minutes: The Story of the First Amendment”, and “The Power of the Image”. There are many more to see in subsequent visits.

See also (on the “4 Jesus” case) this blog link.

There is a wide screen on the top floor with changing images, one of which was the surface of Mars. Photography was allowed in most areas, but not in the wide screen area (probably because commercial films cannot be videotaped under copyright law).

Here is my "Be a TV Reporter" video:

video


Update: May 5, 2008

I visited the Ethics room, and tried the exercise of generating a news story. There is a video game-like or XBOX-like terminal which today demonstrated an animated situation where animals have escaped from a circus. The "reporter" is given characters to interview and questions to choose from. The monitor tells the reporter when a question is inappropriate, and shows opinion or spin. At the end, it shows the news report that the reported would have generated, which in my case, was too opinionated and biased.

The Ethics room offers some other attractions, including two First Amendment quizzes, one for adults and one for students. The students' quiz points out that a principal cannot censor a student's home Myspace page unless there is disruption at school.





Update: August 13, 2008

Theodore Kaczynsk wrote a letter, from supermax prison in Colorado, to a federal appeals court objecting to a display of his Montana log cabin in the law enforcement exhibit. He made the bizarre claim that the "rights" of the victims' families were compromised. The AP story by Judy Lin is here.

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