Thursday, September 11, 2008

Should the media be obligated to cover September 11?

Today, as I flipped on the radio, I came across a very serious morning show. Unlike other stations, discussing the usual gossip, the crew were talking about September 11. Today.

I was well aware what today was; I noted it when I was alerted to the date a few days ago. But today, this station was angrily reporting that there wasn't enough coverage. They sadly noted that the New York Times had nothing relating to September 11 on their cover (though they ran a very affecting story yesterday on the forgotten injured victims);
neither did the New York Post. "They usually do the right thing," the DJ lamented, and mentioned other papers: The Los Angeles Times had articles on terror, the Daily News went all out. The Star-Ledger, the Washington Post, Newsday all had it on their front covers, even the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. How could the big papers for the area that was affected the most not cover it?

Earlier in the broadcast, before I tuned in, there were indignant callers pleading for people to "move on". Then came the swarms of tearful people lashing out at those who couldn't understand that moving on was impossible. How dare they! It was all very riveting. Throughout the day, the only mention of the historic nature of the date was on this station; as the morning team had pointed out, even other stations weren't giving the day its due. Yes, it was seven years later, but never forget. It was the stories of hearing children--who were mere babies if they were born in 2001--not understanding the tragedy that got to me. I remember, even years ago, a young girl at the camp I worked with who knew of the day but didn't really get it. This was only a few years later, but it only underscored for me how quickly time passes.

I understand both sides. I understand the fatigue--do we really have to go through with this again? If there's more pressing news (which there wasn't; the Post's cover was especially malevolent on this day), I get not putting it as front and center. But so many issues dealing with September 11 aren't close to being solved, let alone the giant hole at Ground Zero, and now's the time to bring those issues to light. It is important to remember, especially as our entire world has changed since then. So much of what's defined America this century so far--and what continues to be the biggest issues in our future--is because of what happened on that gorgeous Tuesday seven years ago. We cannot forget that.


John said...

I agree that it should be mentioned in some capacity every year by the news media, but I think that after the tenth anniversary we should treat all of our major tragedy remembrance holidays (9/11, Pearl Harbor Day, Memorial Day, even Veterans' Day)with the respect and attention that they deserve. We shouldn't pull an RNC and turn it into a pro-war propaganda piece, but we also shouldn't use "move on" as an excuse to never talk about it again.

There were plenty of ways to cover the story in the news without it feeling like some sort of cruelly macabre "Greatest Hits" retread. The coverage of Senators Obama and McCain at the memorial was appropriate for multiple reasons, and I think that the absence of a proper memorial at Ground Zero (or even an improper one, something other than a giant hole in the ground) is embarrassing for the nation. It's almost as if we are afraid to close a gigantic open wound because we might forget how much it hurt, completely ignoring the fact that there will be a permanent scar no matter what.

LG said...

I agree with you Steph, in understanding both sides. I lost my aunt on 9/11, and as much as I do miss her every day, I think the time is coming (or maybe it has come) for the media to down play the day. Not that it can't be mentioned, not that it shouldn't be remembered, not that those who were lost should EVER be forgotten...but for me, I find it harder to move on with all the media coverage and await the day I can grieve in peace.

The events that happened that day should always be remembered and those who were lost should always be honored, but in a private way.