The enthralling Newseum, that changed the way I look at human interest stories and the part they play in journalism. It also emphasized on the role of news and media in a very passive manner. It didn’t shout out why effective news distribution/ is important; it just magnificently laid out the reasons.
The Pulitzer prize winning photographs gallery had me in tears. The famous of photo of the starving child and a vulture sitting by, taken by Kevin Carter, generated emotions on one end of the spectrum. The audio-visual capturing the photographers talking about their experiences and their select work, along with the photos in the gallery, was a moving experience. The surroundings were quiet enough, that I could hear my friend and myself breathing heavy. The photographers talking about how this ‘job’ is so much more than one, and how it changed them, was intriguing. On the other end of the emotional spectrum was the awe generated by photographs that captured moments of change and truth. The photographs that, had the button been clicked a second later (or even earlier), would not have been in the gallery at all. As one of the photographers mentioned, ‘this job is about learning to anticipate. You have to click the button a split second before the moment you’ve captured is realized.’ From a baby that has been sent flying down a burning building, to someone being shot at at the very moment; capturing these moments is a work of genius, indeed. What struck me the most, what made each of the photographs so compelling, is the eyes! That is where the true emotions lie. Here, both sets of eyes communicated oodles; the eyes behind and in front of the cameras.
The other part of the museum that almost had me in tears was the 9/11 exhibit. Growing up in Mumbai, I have seen my share of natural as well as man-made catastrophes (25 is a few years lived!). During those times, I was always news hungry. Human interest stories weren’t as appealing, those behind the camera/pens didn’t get my attention as much as they should have. I wanted hard.core.news.! I wanted numbers, reports and most recent updates of the situation. The video of journalists talking about their coverage of the incidence cut through my heart. That changed the landscape of their career and journalism in general. But at what cost? I suddenly wanted to know more about the photographer from the Times of India building who had clicked a shot of Ajmal Kasab climbing down the bridge of VT station (Mumbai terror attacks, 26th November, 2010). What must that have done to him?
There was more… Stories of journalists who have covered wars, a catalog of newspapers dating back to the mid-1970s – beautifully capturing the evolution of print media in the United States, an exhibit depicting the story of news media – through facts, anecdotes and actual equipment… There was so much more to the experience! And what did I come out with?
Our society is a dynamic system afterall. Every little change affects the system in different ways and at varying intensities. The news is a bunch of new-s. So each perturbation in the system is, in theory, something that should be reported to those affected, those holding stakes, and those who care about it. A mass medium such as a newspaper or television channel, then, has a responsibility of taking all the relevant information to the masses. No doubt that an Op-Ed or a human interest story brings out something worth reading. But before that, a basic news item with the 5W1H is critical, and this fact cannot be forgotten by a media outlet.