40th Anniversary of Woodstock

August 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
This weekend marks forty years of peace, love, and rock and roll. We're talking about Woodstock, the music festival that became a symbol of an entire generation. 40 years ago this weekend, a half-million people gathered in upstate New York for three days of peace, love and rock 'n roll.

Many of these moments are revisited in the Newseum's Woodstock exhibit. There's even an original list of how much each act was paid.

The best bargain? That would be Carlos Santana at just $1,500.

You can also check out the famous work of some little-known photojournalists including Dan Garson. "Dan was 17 years old and decided, 'Hey, big Woodstock festival I'm going to go shot this for my school newspaper.' So he writes and he gets a press pass and he gets a seat in the first or second row," said Newseum President Kenneth Paulson.

The best photographs of Janis Joplin, Sly Stone and Roger Daltry were snapped by the cub reporters, proof of the mainstream media's reluctance to take these artists seriously.

"I know the guy from the New York Times was trying to file a positive story and his editors were telling him we don't want that story. We want a negative story. We know this is horrible," said Woodstock Promoter Michael Lang.

At the time the mainstream media-like this Los Angeles Time headline-covered the traffic, the weather, the drug use: stuff that now seems insignificant. But after Woodstock, that all changed.

"As soon as America's news media recognized you could build an audience with this kind of coverage and attract young reader and viewers, they were all over it," said Paulson. Soon, anything considered "pop culture" saw increased coverage. "Woodstock and the era around it transformed what constituted news."

While it's the music that most treasure, the festival will also be remembered for its ability to make journalists sit up and listen.

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