This article first appeared in The Voice on Sept. 13
For many Bloomsburg University students, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 are now just a vivid childhood memory. Man
y of us were sitting in an elementary or middle school classroom on that beautiful Tuesday morning. Students nationwide were getting accustomed to a new school year and schedule. Summer had officially ended. Many people, including myself, can remember exactly where they were when the attacks occurred in New York City.
Those memories are now 11 years old. Year after year, anniversary after anniversary, people remember, acknowledge, and salute the men and women who died that day.
In 2012, does the meaning of Sept. 11 mean less than it did ten or even five years ago? Many would argue that it does. On Sept. 12, 2001 the headline of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer read, “None of us will ever forget.” One walking by a newsstand on Tuesday would paint a different picture in Americans minds. Have just the headlines started to forget or have people started to forget as well?
“The pain, the outrage, the loss – they never fade. The amount of journalism, however, must,” is what Margaret Sullivan wrote in an Op-ed piece for the New York Times.
In her piece, she wonders what it takes to satisfy readers. Do people want an overload of coverage about an 11-year-old American tragedy? I believe that it wouldn’t hurt. I do not think that 11 years, relatively speaking, is a long time. The tricky question is at what point should the headlines start to fade. We all know it cannot last forever.
After last year’s extensive coverage for the 10th anniversary, was it appropriate for a paper like the New York Times to not include the tragedy on the front page this Tuesday? After all, it did happen in New York City. I believe that The New York Times led with an appropriate story, but to not put it on the front page at all strikes me as a poor editorial choice. On the flip side, this is the editorial team speaking up and putting a stop to it.
Events like this and Veterans Day, for example, are what Sullivan calls “anniversary journalism.” These are events that have happened in the past that need to be covered, but rarely can be written in an original and unique way. Finding a happy medium between how to cover the day and what readers expect out of your newspaper, magazine, website, or blog is the difficult situation editors find themselves in.
Social media was not slowing down at all throughout the day on Tuesday. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networking sites were filled with people remembering Sept. 11. So, is social media and 140-character statements replacing full-blown news articles and coverage of the day? That is something to think about considering the lack of coverage across the country on Tuesday.
A news story typically explains what is going on in a given area with details, interviews, new information, and possibly some startling piece of evidence. Wednesday’s paper, according to Sullivan’s blog, will have coverage of the reading of the names and emotional photos of that ceremony that could make their way to page 1.
Instead of completely ignoring the tragedy, I like how The Boston Globe headlined the front page with “A Quieter 9/11.” That statement is one that shines light on the horrific day while simultaneously moving the paper and their readers forward.