NewsCapade brings history to life at NU

By Joelle Blocksom and Kevin Abourezk
J Alumni News staff

Branden Rech stood watching as Tom Brokaw described the attempted assassination of President Reagan on television in 1981.

Rech, a freshman at the University of Nebraska, said he never realized so many historic events had been captured in video.

“It’s just kind of nice to see all the footage,” Rech said.

Meanwhile, 11-year-old Peter Sitzmann selected front-page stories for a newspaper by listening to a microphone and tapping his finger to a touch-screen computer.
“I think it’s pretty neat,” Sitzmann said. “It shows a lot of history.”

Spectators seemed delighted by the NewsCapade, the traveling version of the Newseum, the world’s only interactive museum of news. The interactive museum came to the NU campus as part of J Days, the annual celebration of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Three bright blue trailers hauled the exhibit that parked in front of Memorial Stadium from April 13 through 16.

Many NewsCapade visitors were from the NU campus or Lincoln, but others came from farther away. Dee Kugler and three friends came from Beatrice to see the NewsCapade as part of Kugler’s 64th birthday celebration.

The NewsCapade featured copies of newspaper front pages from big-news days such as Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, the assassination of President Kennedy and the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle. Artifacts from famous news events were also on display.

“This (whole exhibition) really brings back memories,” Kugler said. “It makes you remember the things that you saw and where you were when those things happened. I can even remember the rooms I was in, the smells I was smelling and the color of the curtains!”

Across the room, four 36-inch screens displayed four different newscasts replaying some of the most significant events of the past century. In another corner of the room, two huge backdrops, one of the White House and one of a sports stadium, awaited aspiring broadcasters as a camera crew stood by, recording their TelePrompTed broadcasts. Afterward, the newly initiated broadcasters groaned and giggled as they gathered around a closed-circuit monitor to view the show they had just taped.

Friday afternoon found the NewsCapade full of students of all ages. NU Professor Emily Herrick had brought her English as a second language students to the museum to practice their English speaking skills at the broadcasting booth.

“I brought them here for their listening/speaking class,” she said.

“The broadcasting set made me nervous, but I’m enjoying it,” said Sung Hwan Kim, one of Herrick’s students, a senior physical education major from South Korea. Scott Shields, a Bryan High School senior, was visiting the NewsCapade with his geography class on a field trip. Shields said the broadcasting set was the best part.

“I’m hoping to go into broadcasting someday,” he said.

The four women from Beatrice gathered in front of the birthday exhibit, which allowed visitors to program their birthdates and get a print-out of some of the biggest news stories of the month and a chart of the relative cost of living for that year.

“I remember seeing a lot of these things happen,” said Dot Cornelius, Kugler’s friend.      “I didn’t remember the cost of living, though.”

Kugler said she was thrilled with the show.

“This display is really wonderful!” she said.

Since January this year, the NewsCapade has been through several southern states, including Florida and Mississippi. The display came to Lincoln from Colorado Springs and went on to Iowa on April 17.

Newseum founder Al Neuharth visits the NewsCapade at each of its stops. He spoke briefly at the college’s J Days ceremonies on April 14.