Screams erupted when a rat scampered through the aisles of the Newseum's theater. The rodent wasn't real, but it felt like it.
"I wanna know how they did the rats," said Christopher Millette, photography supervisor at the Erie (Pa.) Times-News.
Participants were delighted by a 4-D video aired during the field trip to the Newseum today. The movie grabbed viewers' attention with shaking chairs complimenting a three-dimensional trip through a printing press and brought viewers "inches" from a soaring bullet on the battlefield. A gust of air blown at viewers' feet gave viewers the feeling of on-screen rats scampering up their legs.
The Newseum handed members of the audience goofy, black polarized glasses so they could be the first in public to view the 4-D movie. Earlier, conference attendees watched two other features aimed to teach the public about the ongoing changes of journalism and the importance of the First Amendment.
The latter video brought Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Matthew Lyon to life. It examined the contentious relationship of the press and the federal government in early American history – a relationship that seems much the same more than 200 years later.
"If you threw a politician from today back into 1790, they would be crying for their mothers in a New York minute," one commentator in the video said.
Another video gave a telling tale of The Roanoke Times and its fight to successfully converge traditional print coverage with new media following the shootings at Virginia Tech University.
But it was the 4-D video that wowed the audience. It closed with a round of applause from viewers who seemed delighted by the experience.
-- Marissa DeCuir and Ginger Gibson