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[Opinion] Newseum and Presseum

Posted April. 11, 2008 03:06,   


Media freedom is the lifeline of democracy. It is the fundamental infrastructure of democracy where people express their opinions freely and share a point of view. As good products are welcomed in the market, good thoughts can survive in the market of thought. Only when the public is allowed to express their opinions freely via media freedom, can quality and sound information circulate in the market of thought. Media firms that deliver wrong information can deceive their readers or audience immediately. However, they cannot last for a long time in that way and will inevitably face a disastrous end.

Princeton University’s sociology professor Paul Starr declares that the United States could become the world’s superpower thanks to its media freedom. He explains that the U.S. proactive support for media freedom via the constitution has driven the nation’s wealth and power. The fact that the world’s largest media museum Newseum reopens Friday in Washington, D.C. is telltale evidence that he is right. Charles L. Overby, chief executive officer of the museum, said, “It will be worthwhile for global tourists to visit the museum and think about the meaning of the First Amendment that the Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, engraved in the wall.”

It has taken six years and cost $450 million (approximately 450 billion won) to build a new building on Pennsylvania Avenue connecting the White House and the Congress. The first edition of the Dong-A Ilbo is also featured on the fifth floor of the Newseum, along with other monumental newspapers. Only seven countries, including the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Japan and Korea, have journalism museums. The Dong-A Ilbo also modeled after the Newseum when it opened its own journalism museum, Presseum, on the third and fourth floors of the Dong-A Media Center next to the Cheonggyecheon in 2000 to commemorate its 80th anniversary.

Presseum is a specialized museum that reflects Korea’s 117-year-long newspaper history since Hanseongsunbo, which was published in 1883. Also, it provides a cultural space for the people. As of late March this year, 360,000 people have visited the museum in central Seoul. The museum will hold an exhibition, “A Photographer in Kabul” of photo journalist Jeong Eun-jin who has taken photos in conflict areas across the globe, through April 30. The exhibition displays gruesome lives of Afghan women and their humanity through the photos taken by Jeong who lived in Afghanistan for a year.

Editorial Writer Huh Mun-myeong (angelhuh@donga.com)