Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1997

Contents:
Author: William J. Clinton  | Date: April 18, 1997

Teleconference Remarks on the Opening of the Newseum,
April 18, 1997

The President. Thank you, Al and Charles and Peter. Thanks a lot for asking me an easy question that can only get me in trouble. Whatever I say, I’ll be behind the curve ball, which is, of course, where all of you try to keep me. [Laughter] Nonetheless, I’m glad to be with you today. And I am glad the Vice President was able to officially open the Newseum, and I’m glad he told you the stories that I hear about once a week about his days as a reporter. [Laughter] He says he was always accurate, vigorous, and totally fair. [Laughter]

Thanks to the technological wizardry that you’ve built into this wonderful Newseum, I’m able to join you on your video news wall for the grand opening. It’s amazing to me that this is happening. You know, when I was growing up, I got my news from my local paper or watching the 6 o’clock news on my family’s black and white TV, and I suppose I never imagined the incredible array of ways people would someday get their news and their information, from all-news radio and TV to the Internet and all the sort of "near-news" programs.

And I think that’s why this Newseum is so important, because it will remind us that we’ve come a long way, but no matter how it’s packaged or delivered, news has always fulfilled mankind’s most basic need to know. And it also reminds us that democracy’s survival depends upon that need to know and the free flow of ideas and information.

I congratulate you on giving our children and their parents an opportunity to learn about the role news media has in protecting our freedoms and helping us to build the most robust and open society in human history.

This Newseum is not only a tribute to the news profession, it’s also a tribute to the men and women who have dedicated their livesto it, who know that, always, there are going to be people who will work hard to struggle, sometimes at real personal risks to themselves, to get the news and hopefully to be fair, honest, and critical in their reporting of it. America is stronger and freer because of them, and I thank them. This Newseum is really a great addition to the Washington area. And I know it will attract a lot of visitors, not only from every State but also from all around the world.

Now, the question you asked me is a fair one and a good one. I think that the fundamental role of the news media and the reporting today is what it has always been—is to give people information in a fair and accurate way. But the context is far different. There are, first of all, more sources of news. There is more information that people have to process, and people get their news in more different ways. And as I said, there are all these sort of "near-news" forces bearing down on you and offering competition.

I sometimes wonder what it’s like to put together an evening news program or a morning newspaper when the main story has been playing every 5 minutes on CNN for 6 hours, and whether you really—whether that affects what you do or not. I would say that from my perspective, the most important thing is that while we’re being inundated with this glut of information, that we try to make sure that people have a proper context within which to understand the information. I think that the fact that we can have more facts than ever before is important, but if you don’t have any framework within which to understand those facts, it seems to me it poses an enormous challenge.

The other thing that I think we have to do is to be careful when we report the stories about things that might be true, not to say that they are, particularly if to say that they are or to imply that they are could cause real damage to people in their reputations and, indeed, in their own lives.

But I think that the competition to which you’re subject makes it more difficult both to keep down excessive hype in some stories and to take the time and the effort to put it in proper context. I think in some ways it is much more difficult to be a member of the news media than in years past. It’s a great challenge. And all the benefits of this communications explosion impose new challenges on you to meet the old-fashioned duty of being accurate, thorough, tough, and fair.

Q. [Inaudible]—once you’re off your crutches, you and your family will come over and browse through the Newseum with us. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

The President. I’d love to do it. Thank you and bless you all. Congratulations.

Note: The President spoke by satellite at 11:24 a.m. from the Roosevelt Room at the White House to the Newseum in Arlington, VA. In his remarks, he referred to Allen H. Neuharth, chairman, and Peter S. Prichard, executive director, Newseum; and Charles Overby, chief executive officer, Freedom Forum.

Contents:

Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options


Title: Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1997

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options


Title: Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1997

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: William J. Clinton, "Teleconference Remarks on the Opening of the Newseum, April 18, 1997," Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1997 in United States. Executive Office of the President, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Week Ending Friday, April 18, 1997 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1997), 33:2108 538. Original Sources, accessed April 24, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CRKIHN3RDX5K13J.

MLA: Clinton, William J. "Teleconference Remarks on the Opening of the Newseum, April 18, 1997." Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1997, in United States. Executive Office of the President, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Week Ending Friday, April 18, 1997 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1997), 33:2108, page 538. Original Sources. 24 Apr. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CRKIHN3RDX5K13J.

Harvard: Clinton, WJ, 'Teleconference Remarks on the Opening of the Newseum, April 18, 1997' in Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1997. cited in , United States. Executive Office of the President, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Week Ending Friday, April 18, 1997 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1997), 33:2108, pp.538. Original Sources, retrieved 24 April 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CRKIHN3RDX5K13J.