Newseum.org

A couple of months ago I went to the Newseum in Washington D.C. It is an interactive museum of news and journalism featuring 15 theatres and 14 galleries on six levels. Its mission is "to help the public and the news media understand one another better" and to "raise public awareness of the important role of a free press in a democratic society.”

The operations of the Newseum are funded by the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to "free press, free speech and free spirit for all people.” Well, almost all people.

Artifacts include sections of the Berlin Wall and historic front pages dating back to the Civil War. The Newseum's largest gallery tells the history of news spanning over a period of five centuries with more than 300 historic front pages and explores diverse topics ranging from women in media to war reporting.

There are students and civil rights movements galleries, a world news gallery, a Journalists Memorial, Pulitzer prize photographs, front pages from the civil war, a 9/11 section chronicling the attack on America. The Newseum covers presidential assassinations, presidential elections, the heartbreak of war, achievements in sports, entertainment, front pages from across America and around the world. Anything you can think of. Well, almost.

It is very hard to find anything related to the gay struggle, the gay revolution, Stonewall and Gay marriage. You can go through all six floors of the museum and never see the word homosexual or gay on any of the displays.

While I was fascinated by the museum I was annoyed when I could not find anything about our lives; we have been in the news quite a lot, at least since 1969. I decided to stop at one of the desks and asked point blank where I could find references about gay people in the news.

The nice gentleman behind the computer was taken aback by my question.

He did a few searches coming up with blanks and with a sincerely surprised and rattled expression on his face tried to apologize; he said he had no idea why his search didn’t come up with results and handed me a visitor comment card inviting me to write to the museum about my concern. I decided to write this column instead; perhaps I should start a hash tag, something like #nogaysinthenewseum.

Newspapers are a critical part of our democracy. They are the watchdogs for the public interest. Editorials can stimulate thinking and generate proposals for progress, change and reforms. The founding fathers called newspapers "the market place of ideas.” Sadly, just as we saw video kill the radio star, we see reader's apathy, economics, political bias and business interest kill the newsprint journalist. Americans spend over 150 hours a month watching TV. Newspapers are no longer the predominant go-to news source; the Internet overtook newspapers as a news outlet a few years ago. Some of the largest websites are aggregate news sites, meaning they pull news from other sources often without checking for truth or accuracy. The writing is on the wall of the Newseum: Newspapers are taking their place among the relics of the past.

At SFGN we want to prove that profiting off of newspapers is still do-able. Over the last five years we have featured international, national and local news; entertainment and theater reviews; editorial columns and breaking stories. We have exposed crooks and injustice, making you part of all this by allowing your comments to be read by all as if it was an open forum. With yours, and our advertisers’ support, we are not finished yet. Remember, an uninformed and ignorant society is easy prey for dictatorship.