Newseum

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

Sample the D.C. museum's mix of media coverage and history.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Site content encourages kids to consider the First Amendment, civil rights, and other issues. 

Violence

Past news coverage touches on some difficult topics, including bombings and shootings. Kids may find a few photos disturbing but won't see anything newspaper readers don't.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

The Newseum site's language is clean. Some older comments on its YouTube page contain words such as "s--t" and "f--k"; recent entries primarily involve clean sentiments (or no comments at all).

Consumerism

An online store sells museum apparel, books, and other items.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

The site says it doesn't collect personal information from users unless they sign up for a mailing list or otherwise submit it. Kids don't need to register to use the main Newseum site but will need to enter their first name, their last name's initial, an email address, a subject, a school level, a city, and a state to access all Digital Classroom materials. Users also can potentially connect with other users on the Newseum YouTube and Facebook pages.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Newseum is a website that corresponds with Washington, D.C.'s popular news museum. Exhibits in the actual 250,000-square-foot Newseum span five centuries of news coverage; on the site, kids can get a condensed look at journalism, the First Amendment, and how the media conveyed several major historical events through videos, photos, and other background information. 
 
Newseum doesn't offer much personalized content or feedback, so you may need to provide additional insight. With a little help from teachers or parents, the site can serve as a phenomenal starting point for a conversation about the mechanics behind news coverage, journalistic ethics, and the difference between opinion and objectivity -- which can help kids hone their research and writing skills and understand current events. Note: If you click out to Newseum's YouTube channel, watch out for some heated, profane user comments and links to inappropriate, non-Newseum videos. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • using supporting evidence

Social Studies

  • events
  • history
  • timelines

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • investigation
  • part-whole relationships

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • personal growth

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Clever interactive elements illustrate news coverage of major historical events in ways that are sure to engage kids. The site is pretty well-organized, though the lessons and most multimedia are located within its Digital Classroom resource.

Learning Approach

Videos, readings, and images blur the lines between history and journalism to help students understand how media coverage works, and content touches on topics such as accuracy and ethics. Kids will increase their news knowledge but won't necessarily get journalistic writing help. 

Support

The Digital Classroom section provides lesson plans on journalism, elections, and the civil rights movement. For students visiting the museum in person, printable worksheets can offer additional insights. Beyond that, there's not much help (an FAQ section only addresses system requirements).

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • using supporting evidence

Social Studies

  • events
  • history
  • timelines

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • investigation
  • part-whole relationships

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • personal growth

Kids can learn about the intersection of journalism and history, illustrating how and why news is produced. Newseum's site explains how media coverage works using illustrated historical examples, including Watergate, 9/11, John F. Kennedy's presidency, the First Amendment, Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, and other events. Sections touch on topics like objectivity and anonymous sources, and kids can check out newspapers from around the world and learn about other countries' media climate. The site doesn't offer a ton of ways to personalize the information or tips on how kids can get involved in the news cycle themselves. But Newseum summarizes media coverage well in an interesting way -- and provides a helpful history lesson in the process.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Brereton

What's it about?

NEWSEUM is the companion website to the news museum in Washington, D.C. Through articles, video, and multimedia features, Newseum illustrates how the media covers events; kids can view virtual versions of several museum exhibits, time lines, and interactive maps to learn how key events were reported. Visitors will get a journalism primer that includes information on the First Amendment, objectivity, and other related topics, complete with Civil War-era newspaper images, photojournalism, and more. A Digital Classroom designed for middle school- to college-age students offers additional videos, interactive items, and educator materials. Other cool features include Today's Front Pages; through an agreement with newspapers in 87 countries, the site posts front pages from more than 800 newspapers daily.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 
The site won't serve as a substitute for a museum visit -- some items work well online, but others only include a brief description or reference to the somewhat lackluster virtual tour that lists each level's exhibits. However, there's enough content to give kids an overview of how news coverage works and get them thinking about concepts such as media ethics and accuracy. 
 
Several items -- including an interactive press-freedom rating map that lists a country's history, key media moments, and prominent journalists as well as the corresponding Digital Classroom site -- use admirably diverse, engaging methods to present concepts. Kids can hear journalists describe covering 9/11 and its aftereffect on American culture; view images and hear photographers discuss capturing each shot; or watch media panel discussions on civil rights movement events, political cartoons, and other topics. Time lines nicely illustrate how concepts and historical events relate, and frequent video and image use help prevent the site from feeling too text-heavy.
 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why examining history and past news coverage can help society. Can your kids identify a few major events, such as the civil rights movement, that have helped the U.S. make significant changes?
  • Kids can find dozens of sites that cover events. Talk about substantiated news outlets, and ask your kids: How can you tell if a website is a legit news source or not?
  • Some websites include narrative writing and opinions. Show your kid news article and column examples of these more objective styles of writing, and discuss the difference.

Website details

Genre:Educational
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Newseum was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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