Newseum entering Twitter age
The Newseum, scrambling to keep up with the fast-changing media landscape, is taking a step into the technological future.
Under a $5 million grant to be announced Thursday, the Pennsylvania Avenue museum will create an exhibit to enable visitors to interact with news feeds on touch-screen and touch-activated walls.
"People will be able to explore the news in real time," says Phil McKinney, vice president and chief technology officer of HP, the computer giant that is providing the financing. Hewlett Packard will become a founding partner of the Newseum.
The exhibit, expected to open late next year, will focus on what McKinney calls "the democratization of information."
Noting how Twitter can be the first to deliver word or pictures of breaking news, such as the US Air jet that landed on the Hudson, McKinney says that "we wanted to create a gallery that would represent that." He says users will be able to compare traditional news sources to social networks and group stories according to accuracy and bias: "There's still a section of the population that believes if it's on the Internet, it must be true.
What's in it for HP? "Our customers use our technology to access this kind of information," McKinney says.
Shelby Coffey, a Newseum trustee and former editor of the Los Angeles Times, says that "we're going for some of the wow factor." He says the exhibit is being designed "so we'll be able to change things within it" to keep up with changes in news technology.
Twitter was a minor factor when the Newseum moved from Arlington to its $450 million home in Washington two years ago. By contrast, Coffey said, in a recent conversation with John McCain, who was criticized in the 2008 campaign as not being savvy about new media, "he was bragging about having 1.3 million Twitter followers."
Much of the Newseum is devoted to journalistic history, and beginning Friday, visitors will be able to see the suit, shirt and tie that O.J. Simpson was wearing on the day he was acquitted of murder in 1995.
| September 30, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
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