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EXPLORATIONS - October 31, 2001: Newseum - 2001-10-30


VOICE ONE:

This is Steve Ember.

VOICE TWO:

And this is Shirley Griffith with the VOA Special English program, EXPLORATIONS. Today we tell about a museum that shows how reporters do their jobs.

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VOICE ONE:

When terrorists attacked the United States on September Eleventh, millions of people saw what was happening on television. Reporters gathered near the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon building near Washington, D.C. to get information. The reporters spoke with officials, police, and people who saw the attacks. People around the world followed what was happening through reports from radio, television, newspapers and magazines.

People depend on reporters to get the facts about the latest news developments. Yet many people do not understand how a reporter works. In the United States, there is a center to help people understand what reporters do and why their job is often difficult. It is called the Newseum. It is in Rosslyn, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D-C.

VOICE TWO:

The Newseum was opened on April Eighteenth, Nineteen-Ninety-Seven. It is a place where visitors can see and experience how and why news is made. A private group called Freedom Forum provides financial support for the Newseum. Freedom Forum is an organization formed to support free press and free speech for all people. Alice Bishop is an official at the Newseum. She says people who visit the Newseum learn about some of the difficulties that reporters face everyday. They also have fun working with computers, television and pictures.

Miss Bishop says visitors are able to meet with news reporters. The reporters come to the Newseum for special events usually held each week. Some are well-known American reporters. Others work for foreign news organizations. They describe their experiences and visitors are able to ask them questions. Miss Bishop says visitors understand the news process better. They learn what reporters do before they prepare their stories for publication or broadcast.

Newseum visitors can also work in a television production center. They can operate a television camera or sit in front of the camera and read news stories. One day a young visitor read a news story she wrote about the President of the United States appointing her mother to the Supreme Court.

VOICE ONE:

About five-hundred thousand people visit the Newseum every year. Many of them come from different parts of the United States. However, many people come from other countries. Some visitors are reporters who want to see how other reporters present the news. Many school children visit to experience being a reporter and writing a story. Some people come to see newspapers from around the world. They like to compare how news organizations in the United States and other countries report the same story.

VOICE TWO:

Alice Bishop says the Newseum's greatest effect is improving understanding between the media and the public. She says the Newseum helps to explain what reporters have to do to report the news. She says many people, especially Americans, think the job of a reporter is easier than it is.

The Newseum has an ethics center that explains the difficulties reporters sometimes face before their stories are made public. For example, should a reporter protect the identity of someone who gives them secret information? Many reporters refuse to release the name of someone who supplies secret information to protect that person. Yet the reporter might be sent to jail if he or she refuses. Visitors are given a chance to make their own decision and then see what real reporters decided to do.

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VOICE ONE:

There are several areas in the Newseum. Visitors can watch great moments in history on huge televisions. There are films of the first people landing on the moon and the murder of American president John F. Kennedy.

Another area shows visitors the history of news. People can see how different groups of people communicate. They learn how people in parts of Africa and Asia used drums to communicate. They see letters from the fourteenth century. They learn when the first newspaper started in Europe more than five hundred years ago.

Visitors to the Today's News area at the Newseum experience the speed of the latest information broadcast around the world. A huge wall almost forty meters long and three meters high has pictures of television news broadcasts from many countries.

In this part of the museum, visitors can also hear radio news broadcasts, and read reports from news agencies and the Internet.

VOICE TWO:

The Newseum also offers special programs such as a current one about war stories. Visitors can examine the difficulties war-time reporters have faced over the past one-hundred-fifty years. They can see clothing some reporters wore during a war. They also can examine objects affected by war, like the wreckage of a car hit by bullets.

Newseum officials say the most popular event they organized was a recent show of pictures by Pulitzer award winners. Miss Bishop says people loved seeing the news pictures.

VOICE ONE:

The Newseum now has a special show of reports about the terrorist attacks in the United States. There are big pictures of the attacks and the recovery efforts. Some pictures show the reactions of people from around the world.

One visitor wrote about the show in a book provided by the Newseum to record visitors’ reactions. The visitor said that she likes the show very much. Yet she asked the Newseum to take down one picture. The picture was taken after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. It shows a man jumping from the top of one burning building. Like thousands of other people, the man died. The visitor argued that this man is a victim, and the picture should not be part of the show. The Newseum did not remove the picture. Officials say it is an important part of the news story.

VOICE TWO:

Visitors to the Newseum learn that being a reporter can be dangerous. In an open area outside the building is a memorial to reporters killed while doing their job. The memorial has almost one-thousand names.

Every year, the Freedom Forum has a ceremony to honor those reporters. Other reporters read the names of those killed. Every year, the list gets longer.

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VOICE ONE:

Freedom Forum was established to help support press freedoms. Officials of the organization say freedom of the press is very important.

Miss Bishop says that the public needs as much information as it can get to make informed decisions. She says the public needs to know what is happening. Different parts of the world, she says, are linked together.

VOICE TWO:

The Freedom Forum operates with money from stock investments. The value of its investments had reached one-thousand-million dollars. Recently, however, the value of its investments dropped by three-hundred-million dollars.

Last month, Freedom Forum officials announced they will end all their international programs. They are closing all the group's offices in London, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Johannesburg. Freedom Forum will also close its office in New York City. Freedom Forum is no longer calling itself an international organization. It is now called a Media Foundation.

Miss Bishop says employees will have to be cut from the organization. She expects many employees to accept the company's offer of extra money if they resign.

VOICE ONE:

Miss Bishop says Freedom Forum officials decided to provide more support to a new Newseum. The group plans to build a bigger and better Newseum on property it bought in the center of Washington. The new building is expected to be ready in Two-Thousand-Five. The current Newseum will remain open until the new one is completed.

Officials believe the new Newseum will have more visitors because it will be near other popular places, such as the world famous Smithsonian museums. They hope that more people from the United States and other countries will visit the Newseum to learn about reporters and what they do.

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VOICE TWO:

This Special English program was written by Yenni Djahidin Grow. It was produced by Caty Weaver. Our engineer was Mick Shaw. This is Shirley Griffith.

VOICE ONE:

And this is Steve Ember. Join us again next week at this time for another EXPLORATIONS program on the Voice of America.

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