Newseum Named Best Museum off the Mall by City Paper Readers
The Newseum is proud and excited to be named the Best Museum off the Mall in the Washington City Paper's Best of D.C. Reader Poll for 2014! One reader, as reported in the final results of the poll, said of the top-choice museum: "I visit the Newseum every time I visit my sister in DC. I spend hours there every time; the exhibits just pull me in."
"Anchorman: The Exhibit," on display at the Newseum through August 31, also received a nod as a runner-up in the Best Exhibit category.
Our thanks to readers of the Washington City Paper for voting and sharing their enthusiasm for the Newseum!
2014 Pulitzer Prizes Awarded
The best in journalism was honored April 14, 2014, with the awarding of the Pulitzer Prize, journalism's highest honor.
Awards were given in 14 journalism categories. The public service award — which comes with a prestigious gold medal — is given to a news organization. All other winners receive $10,000 each.
This year, two prizes were awarded for public service: The Guardian US and The Washington Post, for their revelations of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency.
Reporters Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia of the Tampa Bay Times won for local reporting. Their investigation into the squalid housing conditions among the city's substantial homeless population led to swift reforms.
The award for breaking news photography went to Tyler Hicks of The New York Times for his compelling photos documenting the unfolding terrorist attack at Westgate mall in Kenya. Some of Hicks's photos will be featured in the Newseum's "Picture of the Year" exhibit, which opens April 25, 2014, through Sept. 1, 2014, on the Concourse Level.
Josh Haner of The New York Times won the award for feature photography. Haner was recognized for his photo essay on a Boston Marathon bomb blast victim who lost most of both legs and is rebuilding his life.
These images will be added to the Newseum's permanent and traveling exhibits of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs. The exhibit catalog, "The Pulitzer Prize Photographs: Capture the Moment," showcases the photographs and reveals the stories behind them.
Since 1917, Columbia University has recognized remarkable achievements in journalism, arts and letters, thanks to a bequest from crusading publisher Joseph Pulitzer. In his will, he endowed the university with $2 million for a school of journalism and "prizes or scholarships for the encouragement of public service, public morals, American literature and the advancement of education."
For a complete list of all the winners, please visit www.pulitzer.org.Related Links:
The State of Race in America
WASHINGTON — One-sided portrayals of minorities in the news and the media's narrow focus on murder and mayhem have a direct effect on Americans' attitudes toward race and their willingness to begin a national dialogue, according to the mayors of two U.S. cities.
Fox News political analyst Juan Williams moderated the discussion that was held April 8 at the Newseum titled "Race, Media and Politics." Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu were the participants. The discussion was part of the Aspen Institute's fourth annual symposium on the state of race in America.
Nutter and Landrieu talked about media coverage of crime in their cities and the social and political impact that a lack of solutions bring.
Americans "are fed a daily diet on the 6 o'clock news of every bad thing that happened in the United States," Nutter said. "How the media talk about crime and portray crime is important. Images and connections do matter."
The mayors agreed that the responsibility for finding solutions to the race and crime problems lies with all Americans. Nutter said media coverage should motivate people to "take action and get things done," similar to what was done during the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
"When Americans started seeing on the nightly news the body bags coming back, they said, 'Enough of this.' When Americans saw the dogs and the beatings, they said, 'Enough.'"
The reason Americans are hesitant to talk about race is because "it takes you places you don't want to go," Landrieu said. "Nobody knows how to talk about race in a constructive way."
Nutter and Landrieu's discussion was part of a three-panel program that also focused on housing and violence in minority communities. Ray Suarez, host of Al Jazeera America's "Inside Story," and MSNBC anchor Richard Lui, moderated the other panels.
Comcast co-sponsored the event.
On May 16, the Newseum, in partnership with the Smithsonian, will open a new exhibit that tells the story of how minorities and immigrants used the power of the media to tackle issues in their communities and shape the American experience. The exhibit runs through Jan. 4, 2015.Related Links:
In News History: Unabomber Arrested
For 17 years, an elusive criminal sent homemade bombs that targeted universities, airlines and computer stores, killing three people and injuring 23 others.
Theodore Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, orchestrated these attacks from a small, hand-built cabin in the Montana wilderness.
The rudimentary home where Kaczynski was arrested on April 3, 1996, was taken into evidence by the FBI and has been on display in the Newseum's FBI exhibit since 2008, where it has fascinated hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Whether or not you've been here to see the cabin in person, there's more to explore online:
- Take an insider video tour of the cabin with a Newseum exhibit staffer.
- Hear from one of the FBI agents who was on the scene of the arrest.
- Read the 2008 Washington Post story recounting Kaczynski's objection to the Newseum's display of his cabin.
- Get a closer look at the life of a mad hermit in our interactive online exhibit.
Newseum, AARP Celebrate Remarkable Baby Boom Generation With Photo Exhibit
This year marks an important shift in American culture, as the last of the baby boom generation will turn 50 by the end of 2014. To mark this momentous occasion, AARP has announced a partnership with renowned American documentary filmmaker and photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders to present "The Boomer List," a comprehensive look at 19 iconic boomers — one born in each year of the baby boom (1946 to 1964). "The Boomer List" will come to life later this year as an American Masters documentary film on PBS, a companion book, and as a photo exhibit at the Newseum.
"The Boomer List" exhibit will illuminate important movements and changes that shaped the world during the baby boom years, including the environment, arts and entertainment, science, civil rights, LGBT and women's rights, law, politics, public service, the military and technology. Nineteen large-scale portraits of the film's subjects will be featured in the nine-month exhibition at the Newseum, which opens Sept. 26, 2014.
Throughout the exhibit's run, the Newseum will host a series of special programs and events that explore how boomers changed the world and the legacy they leave for future generations.
"Timothy Greenfield-Sanders' large-format portraits and interviews offer a unique window into a generation that truly changed the world," said Cathy Trost, senior vice president of exhibits and programs at the Newseum. "Through his lens, Newseum visitors will experience the remarkable stories of 19 people whose lives define the baby boom generation and offer a revealing perspective on the news events and stories that continue to shape our culture today."
"The Boomer List: Photographs by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders" will be on display exclusively at the Newseum Sept. 26, 2014 through June 30, 2015.
AARP is the exclusive sponsor of "The Boomer List" exhibit.Related Links:
Joseph Pulitzer: 19th Century Crowdfunder
Newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer was crowdfunding before crowdfunding was cool.
In 1884, the Hungarian immigrant used the editorial page of his powerful New York World newspaper to raise $100,000 to help build a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. At the time, U.S. support for the pedestal was low. Many Americans thought New Yorkers should pay for the base that would hold Lady Liberty — a gift to America from the citizens of France.
Pulitzer, who came to the United States penniless, fought in the Civil War and began his journalism career as a reporter at the German-language Westliche Post in St. Louis, viewed the Statue of Liberty as a lasting symbol of his adopted homeland. He persuaded the wealthy and the working class to literally donate their pennies toward the cause. He convinced readers that the statue was a national concern.
"There is but one thing that can be done. We must raise the money!" he said. "The World is the people's paper, and it now appeals to the people to come forward and raise this money. … Let us not wait for the millionaires to give this money. It is not a gift from the millionaires of France to the millionaires of America, but a gift of the whole population of France to the whole people of America."
In a savvy marketing move, Pulitzer promised to publish the names of everyone who donated to the pedestal, no matter how small the contribution. Donations poured in. In all, Pulitzer received more than 120,000 contributions — 80 percent were in amounts less than a dollar.
On Aug. 11, 1885, the results of Pulitzer's successful crowdfunding efforts were made public.
"One Hundred Thousand Dollars!" proclaimed a bold front-page headline in the World. In fact, $102,000 was raised.
Pulitzer, along with many other notable immigrant and minority journalists, will be featured in "One Nation With News for All," a new exhibit in partnership with the Smithsonian that tells the dramatic story of how immigrants and minorities used the power of the press to fight for their rights and shape the American experience.
"News for All" opens May 16, 2014, through Jan. 4, 2015, at the Newseum.Related Links:
Wolfgang Puck, José Andrés and Tom Sietsema
The Newseum is the place to be for foodies this spring with events featuring celebrity chefs Wolfgang Puck and José Andrés and Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema.
On April 12, the world-renowned restaurateur Wolfgang Puck will host a brunch for members of the Newseum's Friends of the First Amendment Society at The Source. Guests at this intimate event will enjoy a wide variety of The Source's famous dim sum as Chef Puck shares stories from his illustrious career and discusses his newest book, Wolfgang Puck Makes It Healthy. A book signing will follow the program.
On Monday, May 19, Chef José Andrés will join Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema to discuss the blossoming Washington food scene and Chef Andrés' experiences as one of the country's foremost culinary masters. Tom will also talk about the art of food criticism and what it takes to put together a restaurant review. Food aficionados will surely appreciate Chef Andrés' unique perspective and this rare public appearance from Tom Sietsema. Click here to learn more.
Starting on April 14, Press Pass members will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to the José Andrés and Tom Sietsema program only for $25. Remaining tickets to this program will go on sale to the general public for $35 starting on April 21. This event is expected to sell out, so become a Press Pass Member today to ensure your ability to purchase tickets early!
Want the full "Foodie experience" at the Newseum and VIP access to engaging events throughout the year? Become a member of the Friends of the First Amendment Society for a complimentary invitation to brunch with Wolfgang Puck on April 12, reserved premium seats at the program with José Andrés and Tom Sietsema on May 19 and an invitation to a VIP reception on May 19. Contact Ryan Merkel at 202/ 292-6294 or email@example.com for more information on these exclusive invitations and Friends Society membership.
University of Florida Dedicates Reading Room to Newseum Founder
Faculty, friends and family gathered at the University of Florida's Library West on March 10 to dedicate the Allen H. Neuharth Reading Room in memory of the Newseum and USA Today founder, who died in 2013.
The mission of the Neuharth Reading Room is to serve the instructional and research needs of the university's College of Journalism and Communications, according to UF's College News.
Read more about the dedication ceremony here.
A collection of photos from the event is posted on the Newseum's Flickr page.
Town Hall With President Obama At Newseum
On Thursday, March 6, the Newseum was the site of a historic town hall with President Barack Obama and an audience of Latino Americans discussing the Affordable Care Act.
The town hall, "Tu Salud y La Nueva Ley: Conversación con el Presidente" ("Your Health and the New Law: A Conversation With the President"), was hosted by The Asegurate Campaign, in partnership with the largest Spanish-language media outlets in the United States, including Univision, Telemundo and ImpreMedia.
View a selection of photos from the event on the Newseum's Flickr page.
Russert Exhibit Gets a New Home in Buffalo
One of the Newseum's most popular exhibits, "Inside Tim Russert's Office," will soon get a new, permanent home at The Buffalo History Museum in western New York. Russert, the long-time host of NBC's "Meet the Press," was a Buffalo native who became one of the best-known and most respected Sunday morning talk show hosts before his unexpected death in 2008 at age 58.
The exhibit is a recreation of Russert's NBC office in Washington, D.C., and features numerous personal items, including handwritten notes, favorite books, family photos and mementos of his beloved Buffalo Bills.
"Inside Tim Russert's Office" leaves the Newseum June 8, 2014. Don't miss your chance to see it!
President Obama to Participate in a Town Hall at the Newseum
President Barack Obama will participate in a historic town hall at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, March 6, at 11:30 a.m.
The town hall, "Tu Salud y La Nueva Ley: Conversación con el Presidente" ("Your Health and the New Law: A Conversation With the President"), will allow Latinos across the United States to ask the president questions about the Affordable Care Act.
The town hall will be televised, broadcast over radio and live-streamed over digital and social platforms in Spanish.
The town hall is hosted by The Asegúrate Campaign, a Latino outreach and enrollment effort of The California Endowmen, in partnership with the largest Spanish-language media outlets in the United States, including Univision, Telemundo and ImpreMedia.
Today, one in four Americans turns to ethnic media for news. On May 16, 2014, the Newseum, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, will open "One Nation With News for All," a new exhibit that tells the dramatic story of how immigrants and minorities used the power of the press to fight for their rights and shape the American experience.
"News for All" reflects the vibrancy and diversity of today's ethnic media, from ImpreMedia, the largest Spanish-language news company in the United States, to the black-owned Radio One network to the "Angry Asian Man" blog.Related Links:
Gold Medal Win for Newseum
The Newseum was recently honored with a gold medal in Courier magazine's annual Distinguished Dozen awards competition. The museum received the top honor in the Favorite Museum for Groups category for the second consecutive year.
The award's voters, comprised of tour operators and group tour leaders, appreciate the Newseum's offering of special group rates, dedicated group entrance, classes and team-building exercises and catered lunches. Voting was conducted at the end of 2013 by Courier, the official monthly magazine for the National Tourism Association (NTA).
Winners of the 2014 Distinguished Dozen awards include destinations, attractions, hotels, and restaurants selected by National Tourism Association (NTA) tour operators as favorites.Related Links:
Be a Part of the Newseum's Next Exhibit
Ever imagined yourself in a museum? Here's your chance to be part of a new exhibit opening May 16, 2014, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
We are seeking individuals willing to be photographed for inclusion in "One Nation With News for All," an exhibit that tells the dramatic story of how immigrants and minorities used the power of the press to fight for their rights and shape the American experience. Anyone 18 or older is welcome at the photo shoot.
The exhibit design will feature a canopy of photographs of real people to represent the diversity of today's ethnic media and the people who turn to ethnic media for news. Some of the photos may be used in promotional materials and ads.
Location: In front of the Newseum at 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., at the East end of the building next to the Canadian Embassy.
New Day and Same Time: Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, 2 to 5 p.m.
Subjects must be at least 18 years of age and will be required to sign a photography release.
The Newseum cannot guarantee that every subject will be included in the final exhibit.
"One Nation With News for All" is presented in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution.
50 Years Ago in News History: The Beatles in America
On Feb. 7, 1964, Beatlemania arrived in America.
The Beatles — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — were newsmakers from the moment they stepped on U.S. soil. As fans chanted "We want Beatles!" and photographers snapped pictures, the band members were ushered inside Kennedy International Airport in New York for their first U.S. press conference.
But the press coverage of their arrival was not the first time Americans were exposed to the Beatles. Time and Newsweek were among the first U.S. publications to take notice of the Beatlemania craze sweeping England. Both magazines ran articles in mid-November 1963, after the group played a command performance before British royalty in London.
Reporters in the London bureaus of the U.S. broadcast networks also witnessed the hysteria and prepared reports on the phenomenon. NBC's "Huntley-Brinkley Report" aired a four-minute segment on the Beatles the evening of Nov. 18, 1963.
On the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, "CBS Morning News With Mike Wallace" ran a story on the group. The network planned to repeat the segment later that evening on Walter Cronkite's newcast, but breaking news that shots had been fired at President John F. Kennedy's motorcade in Dallas interrupted those plans. For nearly four days, all regular programming was canceled as the networks covered the death and funeral of the president. The segment on the Beatles finally aired Dec. 10 on the "CBS Evening News."
Less than two months later, Cronkite featured the group's triumphant arrival in the United States on his evening newscast. Two days later, the group performed live on the network's "Ed Sullivan Show," reaching a recording-breaking audience of 73 million.
Visitors can see excerpts from TV coverage of the Beatles' first U.S. visit in the Newseum's Bloomberg Internet, TV and Radio Gallery. Newspaper front pages on the event are featured in the News Corporation News History Gallery.Related Links:
Record-breaking 2013 for Newseum
WASHINGTON — One of Washington's most popular attractions, the Newseum in 2013 experienced a five percent increase in visitors over 2012. More visitors came to the Newseum in 2013 than at any time in its five-year history on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Visitors experienced world-class exhibits such as "Three Shots Were Fired" and "Creating Camelot," both of which featured rare artifacts and images about the life, legacy and death of President John F. Kennedy.
Other exhibits launched in 2013 included "Make Some Noise" and "1963: Civil Rights at 50," commemorating the U.S. civil rights movement and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In November 2013, the Newseum opened "Anchorman: The Exhibit," which displays props, costumes and clips from the comedy hit "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" and explores the real-life challenges women faced when they moved into the anchor desk in the 1970s.
The Newseum routinely ranks among the top three attractions in Washington, D.C., according to tripadvisor.com.
Launched in 2013, the Newseum Institute provided a forum for educational programs and thought-leadership initiatives. The Institute also offers educational materials addressing the five freedoms of the First Amendment and the role of media in society.
Students from all 50 states and 16 countries visited the Newseum in 2013 and participated in the Newseum's free educational classes. The Newseum's Digital Classroom, a free online resource for students and teachers, experienced a 60 percent increase in users.
Newseum memberships also saw dramatic growth in 2013, with an increase of 52 percent over the previous year, as more individuals identified with the Newseum's mission and chose to support the Newseum through the annual Press Pass Membership program. Members enjoy a year of free Newseum admission and priority access to a wide variety of events and special programs at the Newseum, plus other exclusive benefits.
2014 promises to be an even bigger year at the Newseum.
While the popular "Anchorman: The Exhibit" will remain open through August 2014, four other temporary exhibits also are planned for 2014.
Jan. 17 – Dec. 28, 2014
"1964: Civil Rights at 50"
This exhibit about Freedom Summer will feature images captured by photographer Ted Polumbaum for Time magazine. Polumbaum's powerful images captured the 1964 clash between segregationists and civil rights activists who poured into Mississippi in a campaign to register blacks to vote.
April 25 – Sept. 1, 2014
"Pictures of the Year"
This photography exhibit showcases dramatic images of the people, events and issues that shaped the world in 2013. The display will spotlight the best news images from Pictures of the Year International (POYi), the oldest photojournalism contest in the world.
May 16, 2014 – Jan. 4, 2015
"One Nation With News for All"
The first-ever Newseum exhibit in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution will tell the story of how immigrants and minorities used the power of the press to fight for their rights and change American history.
Sept. 26, 2014 – March 29, 2015
"The Boomer List: Photographs by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders"
Acclaimed photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders's large-scale portraits will spotlight some of the most fascinating baby boomers, as the youngest members of that influential generation turn 50 this year.
Educating the public about journalism and the First Amendment is a primary focus for the Newseum. In March, a new learning module will be added to the Newseum's Digital Classroom. Focusing on women's suffrage, the module will include primary source documents and cross-discipline lesson plans for use in classrooms across the country. The website is a premier, free online resource for middle school, high school and college teachers and students searching for primary source material on core learning subjects.
Since opening on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Newseum has become a favorite Washington, D.C., venue for parties, events, conferences, movie premieres and weddings. In 2014, the Newseum will continue to function as the center for social and thought-leadership events in the nation's capital.
Contributing sponsorship support for "Civil Rights at 50" has been provided by Walmart and Altria Group.
"Pictures of the Year" was created in collaboration with the Donald W. Reynolds Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism.
AARP is the exclusive sponsor of "The Boomer List: Photographs by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders."
Remembering the Newspeople We Lost
As 2013 comes to an end, the Newseum recognizes notable men and women who passed away this year whose contributions to journalism will not be forgotten.
Many of them are featured in Newseum galleries and exhibits and are honored separately from the journalists who were killed around the world trying to report the news. For a list of those names, please visit the Journalists Memorial.Related Links:
Behind the Scenes with Will Ferrell
Will Ferrell visited the Newseum Dec. 3, 2013, to check out "Anchorman: The Exhibit" and visit with some of the Newseum staff who made the exhibit happen. Enjoy this behind-the-scenes look of his Newseum tour, and visit our Flickr page for even more photos!
Plan your visit to see it in person at newseum.org/visit.Related Links:
Remembering Nelson Mandela
He was called Madiba, a clan name that was used as a term of affection.
The world knew him as Nelson Mandela — the charismatic leader of the African National Congress, the first black person elected president of South Africa, and one of the most revered leaders in the world.
Mandela died Dec. 5, 2013. He was 95.
Mandela was born in the Transkei in South Africa on July 18, 1918, a son of the chief of the Thembu tribe. He joined the ANC in 1944 and later battled against the National Party's political system of racial separation, known as apartheid. Mandela went on trial for treason in 1956, and the ANC was banned in 1960. Mandela was acquitted in 1961, but three years later, he and others were sentenced to life in prison for "sabotage, treason and violent conspiracy."
"Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won," Mandela said in 1961. "The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days."
Mandela's release from prison in 1990 after 27 years was a worldwide news event. By then, the chokehold of apartheid was slowly loosening its grip on South Africa's black majority. Almost immediately, Mandela picked up the struggle where he had left off, vowing to forever dismantle the policy of "apartness" that for decades had deemed the country's black majority less than human. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, which he shared with then-South African president F.W. de Klerk.
In July 1993 when he was in the United States to receive the National Constitution Center's Liberty Medal, Mandela was the featured guest at the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation that champions the First Amendment as a cornerstone of democracy, and the main funder of the operations of the Newseum. Mandela, who was running for president of South Africa, spoke about freedom in his country and around the world.
Adam Clayton Powell III, a former vice president of the Freedom Forum who is currently a senior fellow at the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy, recalled a private moment before Mandela spoke.
"While we were being seated, the AP ran an update from the CODESA talks announcing they had just announced an election date the following April," Powell said. "So, I introduced him as 'the next president of South Africa.' He broke into a big grin, and then he covered the mic and said, 'No one has ever introduced me that way before.' I then covered my mic and said, 'Get used to it.'"
Few images better captured political change in South Africa than news photographs of South Africans waiting in long lines to vote in 1994 — the first time in the nation's history that the black majority, seven out of 10 people, had been allowed. One of the ballot boxes used in the historic election that Mandela won the presidency is part of the Newseum's permanent collection.
Mandela served one term as president of South Africa. He left office in 1999.
NORAD Tracks Santa
The Newseum is once again proud to be a member of the NORAD Tracks Santa team for 2013!
NORAD Tracks Santa began December 24, 1955, when an incorrect phone number encouraging children to call Santa on Christmas was printed in a local Sears Roebuck and Co. newspaper advertisement. Instead of Santa, the number actually dialed the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Air Operations Center, NORAD's predecessor organization, in Colorado Springs, Colo. Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, the commander on duty that night, informed callers he was not Santa, but told them he could look on his radar and tell them Santa's location as he made his Yuletide journey across the globe.
From this act of timely kindness emerged a program that today is institutionalized throughout NORAD, which took over operations from CONAD in 1958. Each year since, NORAD has dutifully reported Santa's location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families across the globe who inquire as to his whereabouts.Related Links:
Is There a Santa Claus? Yes, Virginia
Editor's Note: "Is There a Santa Claus?" is the most reprinted newspaper editorial in American journalism. In the spirit of that tradition, the Newseum has published the story behind it since 2007. It remains one of our most popular stories online.
American journalism's best-known editorial, a timeless tribute to childhood and the Christmas spirit, marked its 116th anniversary this year.
The editorial was published beneath the headline "Is There a Santa Claus?" in 1897 in the New York Sun, a gray but lively newspaper that began as a penny paper in 1833. The editorial's author was Francis Pharcellus Church, a veteran journalist who was assigned to write a reply to a letter from an 8-year-old named Virginia O'Hanlon.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus," Virginia had written. "Papa says 'if you see it in the Sun, it's so.' Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?"
"Virginia, your little friends are wrong," Church replied. "They have been afflicted by the skepticism of a skeptical age."
A few sentences later, Church invoked the editorial's most memorable passages: "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus."
"Is There a Santa Claus?" was given an obscure place in the Sun, in the third of three columns of editorials on Sept. 21, 1897. It was oddly timed, too — an editorial about Santa Claus appearing in September, three months before Christmas.
But over the years, the editorial became a classic in American journalism, and easily the most memorable item ever published in the Sun. That venerable newspaper folded in January 1950.
The Sun remained a storied name in American journalism, and the name was revived in April 2002 by owners of a new conservative-oriented daily in New York. The resurrected Sun laid claim to its predecessor's legacy, adopting its logo — which proclaimed the Sun "shines for all" — and its elaborate nameplate.
"Yes, Virginia," the Associated Press said of the new newspaper, "there is a New York Sun again."
The new Sun lasted just six, money-losing years in New York's hypercompetitive media market and published its final issue on Sept. 30, 2008. Thus, "Is There a Santa Claus?" outlived two incarnations of its natal newspaper.
So what explains such longevity? Why is the editorial so endlessly appealing?
Several answers offer themselves.
"Is There a Santa Claus?" lives on because it's such a rarity — an all-around cheery story, one without villains or sinister forces.
For many adults, the editorial stirs memories of Christmases past, when they, too, were young believers.
The editorial also offers a connection to a time quite different from ours, a time before jet aircraft, television and the Internet. It is somehow reassuring to know that what was engaging in 1897 remains appealing now.
The editorial lives on as a reminder of the lyrical heights that journalism, on occasion, can reach.
W. Joseph Campbell, a former Newseum scholar, is a tenured professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, including "Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misrepresented Stories in American Journalism" and "The Year That Defined American Journalism: 1897 and the Clash of Paradigms," in which the story of "Is There a Santa Claus?" is told.Related Links: