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"WAR STORIES" OPENS MAY 18 AT THE NEWSEUM
Exhibit Traces 150 Years of War Reporting
(released March 8, 2001)

ARLINGTON, Va. – "War Stories," a major new exhibit opening at the Newseum, takes visitors behind the scenes of war reporting and reveals the many conflicts – personal and professional – that war correspondents face.

"War Stories" will be on display at the interactive museum of news from May 18 through Sept. 30, 2001. The exhibit traces the history of war reporting from the Crimean War in 1853 to the present and includes exclusive first-person accounts from war correspondents who talk about the physical, psychological and professional challenges they faced while covering war.

 
 

In addition to the personal accounts from war reporters and photojournalists, "War Stories" uses artifacts, historic newspaper front pages, photographs, newsreel footage, and radio and television broadcasts to tell the stories of more than three dozen print and broadcast journalists and photographers. Well-known personalities, such as Edward R. Murrow, Ernest Hemingway and Christiane Amanpour, are represented, as well as lesser-known correspondents, such as Dickey Chapelle, the earliest known female reporter to die in Vietnam, and Frank Bolden, one of the few African Americans accredited as a World War II correspondent.

To develop the exhibit, Newseum staff conducted almost 80 hours of interviews with more than 40 war reporters and photographers. Participants in the project include Ted Koppel, Ed Bradley, Morley Safer and Dan Rather. The histories provide rich insight into the unique difficulties faced by war correspondents, as evidenced by this excerpt from Associated Press photojournalist Eddie Adams talking about covering U.S. Marines in Vietnam:

I was lying on the ground. Facing me was a Marine who was about four feet away and he had fear on his face like I've never seen in my life. I slid my camera [out] and I couldn’t push the button.…I tried three times and I couldn’t push the button. This would have been … one of the greatest pictures of the war, his face said it all. I know why I didn’t take it. I think about it a lot. Because my face looked exactly like his. I was just as frightened as he was and I didn’t want anyone taking a picture …because people would read it wrong. He wasn’t a coward. Everybody was frightened there.…I think there are times when you just don’t take a photo.

Historian and journalist Harold Evans, author of "The American Century," is the guest curator for "War Stories." In addition to his work with the Newseum in developing the exhibit’s themes and content, Evans has written an essay that is the centerpiece of a companion book to be published in May. The essay is featured on the Newseum’s "War Stories" Web site (available at www.newseum.org/warstories after April 16).

"There is no bigger story than the news of war," said Newseum Executive Director and Senior Vice President Joe Urschel. "But for the journalist trying to report that story, the job is fraught with danger, ethical conflicts, confusion and logistical nightmares. This is an exhibit which shows how some men and women have grappled with those issues — successfully and unsuccessfully."

Peter S. Prichard, president of The Freedom Forum, the nonpartisan, international foundation that funds and operates the Newseum, said, "Journalists put their lives on the line every day to cover the chaos of combat. We hope this exhibit will help the public better understand the great risks that war journalists take in order to get the story out."

The Newseum’s "War Stories" exhibit examines four main themes:

Romance vs. Reality: What’s Covering War Really Like?

"War Stories" begins with a look at the perception that covering war can be a romantic adventure. More often, it is depressing and dangerous. The exhibit features a cross section of correspondents who either built careers in wartime or had a lasting impact on the profession – sometimes both. Visitors can learn about Ernest Hemingway’s professional competition with his wife, Martha Gellhorn, and about Ernie Pyle, who gave World War II a human face by living with GIs and reporting about their daily routines. Artifacts on display include a piece of a cruise missile from the Persian Gulf War, a stretcher from World War II used at the D-Day invasion at the beaches in Normandy and Winston Churchill’s original handwritten documents describing his adventures as a war correspondent during the Boer War.

Propaganda vs. Professionalism: Is the Pen Mightier Than the Sword?

The exhibit’s second section examines how correspondents deal with the challenge of reporting the facts of war accurately, especially when their efforts are likely to have a negative impact on their nation’s patriotism or morale. It is an issue that has tormented thoughtful war correspondents for more than a century, beginning with the first independent war correspondent, William Howard Russell. Visitors can learn about Russell, a reporter for The (London) Times, whose reports about the horrible conditions in which British soldiers served during the Crimean War helped force the resignation of the British prime minister. Visitors also can hear CBS correspondent Edward R. Murrow’s dramatic radio reports, live from London during World War II. Murrow’s reporting brought the sounds of air-raid sirens and exploding bombs into America’s living rooms.

Secrecy vs. the Story: What’s More Important, the Need to Know or the Need to Win?

This portion of the exhibit examines the clash between the military and the media over the public’s right to know and the military’s need for secrecy. During World War II, the news media almost always complied with censorship without question, out of duty to their country. During Vietnam – often called the "uncensored war" – journalists were allowed unfettered reporting. On display is the New Yorker issue containing John Hersey’s riveting account of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, one of the first reports that detailed the effects of the bombing and its aftermath. Visitors can see a bound set of the Pentagon Papers that detail government efforts to mislead the public about America’s involvement in Southeast Asia. The Pentagon Papers were eventually published in 1971 after a landmark Supreme Court decision upheld the rights of the press.

First Draft vs. Final View: Is Truth the First Casualty of War?

The exhibit’s final section examines the immediacy of reporting and how it can affect accuracy. When the shooting stops, how often do the media stay around to sort out the bigger story? Newseum visitors can learn about Civil War photographers Mathew Brady, whose wet-plate camera is on display, and Alexander Gardner, who posed war victims to enhance his photos. Visitors can see an original copy of "Ten Days That Shook the World," John Reed’s account of the Russian Revolution. Immortal photographs are also on display, including Joe Rosenthal’s shot of the U.S. flag being raised on Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945, and Nick Ut’s shot of children fleeing the horrors of a napalm attack in South Vietnam in June 1972.

At the end of "War Stories" is a memorial listing the names of more than 700 journalists who have died while covering war and conflict. Their names are also on the Journalists Memorial in Freedom Park, adjacent to the Newseum.

The exhibit also includes archival war footage and video segments recreating scenes from the U.S. Civil War and World War II on the Newseum’s 126-foot-long Video News Wall. Visitors can "Interview a War Correspondent" at an interactive kiosk featuring more than 40 current and retired journalists who offer their first-person accounts about covering war.

Beginning April 16, visitors can experience "War Stories" online at the Newseum Web site (www.newseum.org/warstories), featuring never-before-seen interviews with war correspondents and a firsthand look at how technology has changed the way war is covered.

Public Programs

Throughout the run of the exhibit, the Newseum will present public programs and educational activities exploring the themes of "War Stories." War correspondents and photojournalists will discuss their real-life experiences covering war. Participants include National Public Radio diplomatic correspondent Tom Gjelten and Maria Mann, director of photography for Agence France-Presse in North America. For additional information about "War Stories" programs and events, visit the Newseum Web site at www.newseum.org.

The Newseum, the only interactive museum of news, is located at 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va., and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. The Newseum is funded by The Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan, international foundation dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people. For more information, call 703/284-3544 or 888/NEWSEUM (toll free), or log on to www.newseum.org.

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