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Learning English - Words in the News
05 May, 2008 - Published 12:00 GMT
The 'Newseum'
The 'Newseum'

A new museum dedicated to the history of reporting the news has opened in Washington. The 'Newseum' aims to tell the story of how journalism has changed over time through momentous events and the constantly changing means of communication. Caroline Duffield reports:

Listen to the story

Atmos - A Curator speaking

Museum curators say the idea's not to commemorate press barons, or individual journalists. But - to pay homage to America's First Amendment - the right to free speech and a free press. The museum examines the traditions of American journalism, including reporters who risked everything to do their job.

Murrow Clip

Visitors can listen to reports from Ed Murrow describing the London blitz as the bombs fell around him. He became a fierce defender of the press - challenging Senator McCarthy and his Un-American Activities Committee in the US.

The opening of this museum comes at an interesting moment for American journalism. The veteran CBS news anchor, Dan Rather, welcomes it - but told the BBC he believes an examination of American journalism is needed today:

DAN RATHER: We have been - American journalism - in a state of at least near crisis, partly because of the war, partly because of 9/11 - but no excuses. In some ways we lost our way and lost our spine… if you forgive the language, lost our guts. Well, it manifests itself by a reluctance, a hesitation and sometimes just outright declining to asking tough questions when speaking to powers. Particularly post 9/11 and, most especially, when the country is at war.

Dan Rather - once one of the best known faces of the evening news - was forced out from his TV network after documents used for a story criticising President Bush were called into question.

Caroline Duffield, BBC

Listen to the words

to commemorate press barons
to remember and give respect to people who had power and influence in mass media

to pay homage
to show reverence and respect toward somebody or, as in this case, something (a human right)

examines the traditions
looks in great detail at beliefs, principles and ways of acting which people in a particular group (here, American journalists) have followed for a long time

a fierce defender
somebody who supports or justifies something (here, the press and its freedom to report) in a strong and powerful way

news anchor
an announcer on a news program whose job is to provide links between the studio and reporters on location

lost our spine
became weak, lacking character and willpower

lost our guts
became cowardly, lacking bravery

unwillingness to do something

forced out from his TV network
left with no other choice but/forced/compelled to leave his job at the TV station

called into question
examined (because there were doubts about something)

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