Documenting and reporting history as a journalist

By Jade Sells

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Display of a piece of the antenna that was on the top of the World Trade Center in the 9/11 gallery at the Newseum.

A journalist is responsible for documenting and reporting history. The Newseum gracefully captures this responsibility. Each exhibit focuses on various events in history including the tearing down of the Berlin wall, World War II, various Olympics, and the civil rights movement.

It was the September 11th exhibit that really captured a journalist’s responsibility to document history. To the right there are a few photos from the exhibit. It included a piece of the antenna from the top of the World Trade Center (right), a projector that flashed notes people had written about the event (left), a wall of various global news papers front pages    that featured the event, and an exclusive video featuring journalists who covered the event and the aftermath. Around the antenna display, there is also a timeline of how the event unraveled. As you circle around the display you follow the coverage of the tragic event.

Stepping into the dark theater you are met with a video of a few journalists telling their stories from September 11, 2001 and what it was like to be covering the story. You could still see the fear and agony in their eyes as they described what it was like to watch people jump from the windows of the World Trade Center. Footage a camera man had taped throughout the morning accompanied their stories. It felt as if you were reliving the event all over again.

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Hand written notes that were projected on the wall behind the antenna display in the 9/11 gallery at the Newseum.

When I left the theater and the exhibit, I realized that those journalists risked their lives to document this tragedy so that the rest of the world could see. Realizing that without those brave people, we might not have had the information and documentation we have now.

Being a journalist is in someways a self-less job. Journalists have to think of what the people deserve and need to know and see and have to put their own inhibitions aside.

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