How can we decipher real from fake news? It’s a timely question for adults and kids alike. So, take the family to the Newseum, located in the heart of Washington, DC on Pennsylvania Avenue, between the White House and the U.S. Capitol. This museum is dedicated to the history of journalism and freedom of the press. The spacious, state-of-the-art building features the 45 words of the First Amendment etched into an exterior wall.
A Surprise Hit with the Kids
Journalism is my passion, so I very much wanted to check-out the Newseum during a recent family trip to Washington DC. But I wasn’t sure my sons, ages 11 and 13, would be interested in this museum, dedicated to the art of news gathering. Boy, was I wrong. They were both captivated by the interactive exhibits and striking visuals. We were stopped in our tracks by an actual news helicopter hanging from the rafters in the museum’s entrance. Here are four reasons to plan a stop at this DC destination:
Fake News: What’s Real? What Isn’t?
It’s a great time to talk to kids about responsible journalism. Upon entering the Newseum, visitors see a stone slab bearing the words: “The free press is a cornerstone of democracy.” The Newseum opened in Washington, DC in 2008. An exhibit called Today’s Front Pages includes the covers of all major newspapers around the world. A dedicated staff arrives early each morning to hang approximately 800 of these front pages.
A Visit to the Newseum is Fun!
Kids peer inside a satellite truck, used by TV news crews during live broadcasts. They can “Be a TV Reporter” by holding a microphone and reading from a teleprompter. Interactive elements make exhibits exciting. See snowboarders and scuba divers while watching amazing 360 degree videos. A beautiful area, called the Family Terrace, invites folks to take a stunning photo with the U.S. Capitol in the background. We held foam microphones and an American flag as a lovely employee helped us snap a great family picture.
Newseum Offers History Lessons During Family Trip to Washington, DC
While we had a lot of fun together at the Newseum, there are some very serious lessons for kids there, too. One exhibit contains large pieces of the Berlin Wall, a symbol of oppression, and an actual East German guard tower.
The incredibly moving 9-11 Gallery includes headlines from that devastating day. A timeline details the various attacks on our country. We learned of the lives lost and the countless acts of heroism that took place in September of 2001. The exhibit also includes a 360-foot antenna mast from the World Trade Center’s North Tower. At first, the boys were quiet. Then, they asked a lot of questions, especially my 11 year old. It’s not an exhibit for a young child. In fact, the Newseum issues a warning, stating just that. But, my kids were ready to talk about this sad history. It was an emotional, important experience for us.
See Real-Life Role Models
Stories of impressive news correspondents are everywhere. I particularly loved reading about Katie Couric and Gloria Steinem. The boys learned about famous sports figures, such as Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali, as they watched a short documentary called “Press Box: The History of Sports Reporting.” Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress is on display in an area dedicated to music reporting! I talked with the kids about activism and standing up for your beliefs in a public way.
Planning a Return Trip!
The Newseum is not one of Washington’s free museums. Tickets for adults, ages 19 through 64, cost $24.95. Youth are $14.95. Children 6 and under are free. But, always check out the web site. There are summer deals and discounts for tickets purchased online.
Bottom line: we all loved the Newseum. We can’t wait to return someday and take in even more important information about a fascinating industry. We also loved the International Spy Museum! Check out these TravelingMom tips to make your visit to Washington DC more comfortable and affordable.