Archive for the ‘9/11 Reflections’ Category

“Ignore The Man Behind The Curtain”

” America will never be destroyed from outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” ~Abraham Lincoln

The popular American collective memory of September 11, 2001, is of 19 “evil-doers” who perpetrated unimaginable and unpredictable deadly terrorist acts against America. The memory is framed with words and images of mass destruction, Osama bin Laden, death and heroism. Mainstream media vehemently projected that imagery and message onto the American public by reporting only those stories or events that reflected such. Susan D. Moeller (2009), for example, wrote how NBC, CBS and FOX showed footage of individuals jumping out of the WTC forever etching the image of death upon the American collective memory.

Meanwhile, significant and meaningful news/events that contradicted or disrupted the collective memory, were rarely, if ever, given proper attention or referenced to again.

As a case in point, David Griffin, a professor of philosophy of religion and theology, emeritus, at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, points out, just after 9/11, the New York City Fire Department (NYFD) recorded approximately five hundred oral histories. Firefighters and emergency personnel spoke of their personal experiences that tragic day. The oral histories documented eyewitness accounts describing explosions and controlled demolition. NYFD Firefighter Thomas Turilli explained, “it almost sounded like bombs going off, like boom, boom, boom, like seven or eight” (Griffin, 2005b).  Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fitzpatrick says, “It looked like sparkling around one specific layer of the building … My initial reaction was that this was exactly the way it looks when they show you those implosions on TV” (Griffin, 2005b). The NYFD oral histories were not included in the 9/11 Commission report (Griffin, 2005a) nor have they been brought to light by mainstream media.

Are mainstream media journalists restricted from covering events that contradict the gatekeeper’s message and imagery of  September 11th, or are they simply the unwitting messengers for the propagandists? Regardless, doubt and mistrust of media has breathed life into a movement in search of the truth. Many scholars, investigative journalists and average citizens are attempting to bring evidence to light that debunks some, if not the entire official conspiracy theory. Nevertheless, the gatekeepers appear to be keeping vigilant watch preventing these stories from seeing the light of day. As a result, independent media outlets in radio, television and Internet bear the weight of bringing the truth out from the shadows of censorship.

The US government’s official and original conspiracy theory is that “9/11 was planned and executed solely by al-Qaeda terrorists under the guidance of Osama bin Laden” (Griffin, 2005). The al-Qaeda terrorists successfully hijacked four US commercial jetliners and skillfully crashed two of them into the World Trade Center (WTC) Twin Towers (causing them and WTC 7 to collapse) and one into the Pentagon. The fourth jetliner was crashed into a field in Pennsylvania by the daring and dramatic efforts from the passengers, which prevented the terrorist’s successful completion of their fourth and unknown target.

Sadly, the shadows of censorship were cast within a couple of hours of the tragic events and continue to this day. For example, immediately after the first tower collapsed, a local CBS 2 reporter Marcia Kramer stated, “CNN is now reporting that there was a third explosion at the World Trade Center, probably an explosion from the ground that caused World Trade Center 1 to collapse on top of itself” (Watson, 2010). She continued, “Again there was a third explosion, it is unclear what caused it…. But CNN is reporting that there was a third explosion that caused World Trade Center 1 to collapse within itself” (Watson, 2010).

Additionally, several unidentified news reporters interviewed three NYFD firefighters moments after the collapse of the first tower. The firefighters reported while staging in the lobby they heard a total of 3 different secondary explosions “then the whole lobby collapsed on the lobby inside” (Watson, 2010).

On face value these 2 examples could easily be explained away. The first CBS report could be retracted as a simple reporting error and the firefighters could have been mistaking because of the chaos unfolding around them. Yet, these two stories carry significant weight towards the truth and the darkness of media censorship. First, when a person experiences a traumatic event they make spontaneous statements without having time or a chance to reflect back on the event to fabricate a false statement. Spontaneous utterances are inherently truthful and extremely difficult to fabricate. Every person speaking in the news clips are obviously still in some state of shock and distress from the events they just witnessed. Their spontaneous statements lend credence to the factual bases from which they came from.

Secondly, and most importantly, the United States government, within hours of their original live broadcasts, confiscated the above referenced video clips. They were withheld from the American public until min-2010 when a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit mandated their release (Watson, 2010).

Notwithstanding the American media censorship, The British Broadcasting Company perpetuated the dark shadow of misleading information as well. At approximately 4:35pm (New York time) BBC reporter Jane Stanley reported that WTC 7 collapsed 20 minutes before it actually collapsed (Watson, 2010). During her live broadcast, WTC 7 can be seen in the background behind her left shoulder as she reports the collapse of the building and the effect it is having on everyone (Watson, 2010). Is this a case of misreporting or was this a break down of the propagandists’ control of their unwitting messengers? Regardless, doubt and mistrust of media is now pandemic.


ENHANCED VERSION: News Reports WTC7 Fell Before It Happens!
youtube.com

Yet, while discussing 9/11 with Frida Hedenstedt, a Swedish family member, she indicated that 9/11 was covered in great detail by her national and local media mediums. Frida explained that 9/11 was the primary story covered for several weeks following the attacks. She also stated the coverage focused on al-Qaeda, terrorism and the victims. In regards to information contradicting the official story coming to light over the last several years, she said her country’s news mediums have not brought a lot of attention to the topic. She added, she has not heard much about it herself either.

These examples are just a few among hundreds of significant and meaningful news/events that contradict or disrupt the collective memory. This information was rarely, if ever, given proper media attention. The roll of mainstream media has been one of censorship and image control. Whereas the roll of the independent journalist and news media has been that of truth seekers and asking the hard questions: what really happened on 9/11 and why has the world been lied to about it?

Ask yourself, “What happened to WTC 7? ” “Why did it collapse?”  Take a look at the following still photographs taken from: 4409 — (Unseen Footage) Tower 7 blasted into rubble from NEW angle! [www.keepvid.com] and see for yourself.

Maybe the leaseholder of WTC 7, Larry Silverstein, answered the questions for us in an interview in September 2002 for a PBS documentary “America Rebuilds”:

“I remember getting a call from the, er, fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, “We’ve had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it.” And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse.” (Source: http://www.serendipity.li/wot/wtc7newspaper.htm)

Reference

Griffin, D. R. (2005a). The 9/11-commission report: Omissions and distortions. Northampton,

MA: Olive Branch Press

Griffin, D. (2005b, Oct.). The Destruction of the World Trade Center: Why the Official Account Cannot be True. Retrieved from 9/11 Review Web site: http:911review.com/articles/griffin/nyc1.html

Harnden, T. (2001, September 18). Bin laden is wanted: Dead or alive, says Bush. The Telegraph retrieved from http://bit.ly/dqMABE

Moeller, S. D. (2009). Packaging terrorism: Co-opting the news for politics and profit. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Watson, P. J. (2010, October 15). CBS report on 9/11: Ground level explosion cause WTC to

collapse. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/csNEXH


Reflections on September 11

Reflections on September 11

The events of September 11, 2001 dramatically changed the way in which the news media operated. We were faced with what was possibly the worst attack on American soil ever. The tragedy of 9/11 held global implications that are still being seen today. On the day of the attacks, news media outlets all over the United States, and the world, interrupted their planned broadcasts to alert citizens of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In the hours immediately following the terrorist attacks, the American news media tried to report with objectivity. However, often times they were just receiving the breaking news themselves as the day unfolded. CNN anchor, and current ASU professor, Aaron Brown interrupted fellow anchor Jamie McIntyre to report the collapse of the South Tower, “Jamie…Jamie, I need you to stop for a second. There has just been a huge explosion. We can see a billowing smoke rising, and I’ll tell you that I can’t see that second tower” (Collapse of the South Tower, CNN). News anchors all over the country interjected with new information as it came in rapidly. According to a study conducted by Amy Reynolds and Brooke Barnett, during the first five hours of live coverage after the attacks, ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN reported rumors 84 times as news was constantly brought in. In addition, journalists acting as eye-witnesses that day made personal references 64% of the time (Barnett). Because of the crisis nature of this event, information was coming in so quickly that journalists reported in ways that differed from their traditional roles. Journalists were interviewed as eyewitnesses as they watched the action from the streets, basic information was lacking in the studios and many broadcasters were at a loss for words for periods of time as they watched the horrific events.

In the aftermath of September 11, the American media began to focus on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, President Bush’s “War on Terror”, and other powerful White House rhetoric like “vengeance” and “justice”. Susan D. Moeller notes that “most of what the American and British media cover of terrorism relates to the impact of terrorism on governments and the body politic, not its impact on people and their very human bodies,” (46). This is somewhat reflected in the American media’s coverage of September 11. After the initial reporting of September 11, where the focus seemed to be more on the human lives lost and personal reflections, the media turned its focus to the political implications. The terms “terrorist”, “terrorism”, and “War on Terror” were now familiar to nearly all US citizens. The use of these words, initially stemming from the Bush White House, took on a life of their own in the media, “After September 11, many media first sourced the terms of the ‘War on Terror’ and ‘terrorist’ to the President and other administration officials, then as the terms slipped into common usage they began applying them to Bush foreign policy goals without attribution,” (Moeller, 109). Every day one could turn on their TV and hear this rhetoric, now infused in our nation’s vocabulary. Our nation was urged to unite as one and fight for justice for what had happened to us.

While the American media focused primarily on the personal political impact the attacks had on our country, the media in other countries focused more on the global impact. The British Broadcasting Corporation is the network that the United Kingdom turns to most frequently in times of crisis, and 9/11 proved no different (Barnett 120). In the first hours of the attack the BBC’s coverage mirrored that of the American media. They offered a “live, continuous, single-focused reporting of the event,” (Bouvier). Both news medias used phrases such as “the images you are just seeing” and “we are about to show you a repeat” for viewers just joining, breaking news was coming in every few minutes, and images of the collapsing towers were being played on loop.  However, following the initial shock of the event, the BBC turned its focus to the global ramifications. The BBC began to direct more coverage to the Middle East and terrorism. In the months following, they tried to remain objective, “When reporters from non-American news outlets wrote about the Bush’s administration’s ‘War on Terror’, the words were typically placed in quotation marks and preceded by the phrase ‘US-led’… that made it clear that this… was part of the White House’s political rhetoric and that the conflict was the United State’s,” (Moeller, 109-110). Because the attacks did not happen in the United Kingdom, the BBC had the luxury of not personalizing their broadcasts and instead focused on worldwide consequences.

The BBC coverage of the attacks did not stop right away, they published special “one-year on” and “five-year on” sections that feature items such as eyewitness reports and 9/11 Commission findings. This demonstrates the great impact that September 11 had on the global media. Years after the attack, esteemed foreign outlets were still publishing information regarding September 11.

My pen pal, Linette Ramos, the news editor at a newspaper in the second largest city in the Philippines, has noticed the affect of September 11 all over the world, “I think it’s not just the American media that changed after 9/11, and I guess you can say that it’s all the media in all countries that changed after US was attacked, although it was more evident in American media,” she said. “For one, personally I noticed that news magazines and other print media were giving more space and prominence to intelligence reports and correct me if I am wrong, stereotyping seemed to show in some news stories, and some are quick to identify bearded, Arab-looking individuals with ties to Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran as terrorist.” In regards to the effect in her own country, she felt that,

“In the Philippines, journalists were also on the look out for materials on the JI, Abu Sayyaf and other breakaway groups of the Al Qaeda and were quick to report any threat to peace and order. Media organizations are also more conscious of their journalists’ safety, especially after a prominent and high-caliber broadcast journalist was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf.”

I agree in that the terrorist attacks made many citizens of the world quick to judge and stereotype. Unfortunately, September 11 made many people paranoid for personal safety. September 11, 2001, changed the way in which not only the American media, but the global media, operates. 9/11 was brought into our collective memory and a pattern was established for covering horrific events like this that has since been seen with coverage in places like Russia, Georgia and now Egypt and Libya.

Works Cited

Barnett, Brooke, and Amy Reynolds. Terrorism and the Press. Vol. 1. Washington D.C/Baltimore: Peter Lang, 2009.

Barnett, Brooke, and Amy Reynolds. “This Just In.” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly (2003). Print.

Bouvier, Gwen. “Breaking News: The First Hours of the BBC Coverage as a Media Event.”  Journal for Crime, Conflict and the Media 2005 (2005). Print.

“Collapse of the North Tower: CNN Coverage.” CNN Live. CNN. WNYW, New York City, 11 Sept. 2001. Youtube.com. Cable News Network, 19 Oct. 2006. Web. 7 Feb. 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjwDv_IONgA&feature=related>.

“CNN 9/11 – South Tower collapses.” CNN Live. CNN. WUSA, New York City, 11 Sept. 2001.Youtube.com. Cable News Network, 29 Oct. 2006. Web. 7 Feb. 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9Q5ff7hRYo>.

Moeller, Susan D. Packaging Terrorism. Singapore: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

Ramos, Linette. “Reflections on 9/11.” Message to the author. 8 Feb. 2011. E-mail.

Comfort in Fear

Audience receptivity skyrocketed. At just ten years old, even I caught on. My mom brought me to school early to put up posters for the student council election. The election had dominated my priority list; and therefore was at the forefront of my parents’ minds too. Posters, stickers, speeches—the Gregory family had no time for news that morning. When my mom dropped me off, we were perfectly unaware of the largest, most transformative news story to break in years.

I noticed more noise than usual in the empty hallways, but eerie noise. The muffled TV sets, hushed voices, and lack of children or laughter unnerved me enough to show up at my classroom a full ten minutes early. Immediately, I noticed that the TV was on, which confused me because we had no movie planned. My teacher was watching the same show as another teacher, featuring repeated footage of a plane tearing into a building. She was on the phone, and come to think of it, several other teachers I’d passed were making phone calls too. Everyone must be so excited about this show, I thought.

“Oh my god, this can’t be real.” As my teacher spoke those words, I noticed for the first time this was a news show. My teacher explained what was going on, and questioned whether my parents would even want me in school right now. As more students showed up, she lowered the TV’s volume, but she didn’t turn it off; she didn’t even mute it. That TV stayed on all day, still showing the plane tearing into the building.

Two things intrigue me about this memory. I felt unsafe. I felt unsafe in a vague and terrifying way. I didn’t expect an airplane to fly into my school, but I was scared because the people in charge of me were scared. Meanwhile, the people in charge of me were scared because the people in charge of them— or in charge of their world perceptions— were scared too. While the news media were painstakingly familiar with the element of fear, this fear was authentic, and it alarmed everyone.

I also remember how strange it felt that the television was on. At school we learned about the world through the filters of textbooks, never straight off the TV. My classmates weren’t the only non-traditional viewers that day; teachers and employees all over kept the newsfeed constant. These elements— genuine fear and a receptive audience— rendered the traditional US approach to news useless and revealed how US media, in comparison with foreign news sources, uses fear to draw in viewers.

News media depends upon advertising. Since advertisers want to market their products as widely as possible, news corporations must entice plenty of viewers to stay afloat. News, therefore, is not just about information. While networks attempt to objectively deliver facts, they draw upon curiosity and emotions as well. Celebrity news and human interest stories attract viewers, but so does fear. In an article about the use of fear in news media and popular culture, David L. Altheide and R. Sam Michalowski assert that “popular culture [is] oriented to pursuing a ‘problem frame’,” (Altheide and Michalowski, 475) in which media isn’t interesting unless it’s problematic. Furthermore, if the problems don’t pose a personal threat, incentive to watch is still limited. It answers, according to Altheide and Michalowski, the press’s major question: “How can we make real problems seem interesting?” (479) However, the media delivers this fear in measured doses, so that viewers feel the need to stay informed, but still enjoy watching.

Acts of terror did not fit neatly into a problem frame. Journalists followed fear-inducing patterns for murder, for drug busts, for armed robberies. But for once, the content alone induced panic, so where did they come in? Some stations, like CNN, handled the situation inquisitively, with a tone of eerie calm, explicitly refraining from speculation and “panic here on the air” (9/11/01 CNN…). Others, like ABC, attempted to quell immediate shock as the planes hit and broadcast continued. FOX, however, replayed the impact in slow motion and engaged in immediate speculation. A September 12th headline from FOX’s website reads “Arafat Horrified by Attacks, but Thousands of Palestinians Celebrate,” creating an enemy for readers to fear just a day after the attack. The same images aired repeatedly. Without the use of catchy graphics or music, viewers genuinely wanted and needed to see the news. Journalists everywhere were bewildered.

Elsewhere, reporting lacked scare tactics and melodrama. BBC’s 9/11 coverage serves as a precise example. The reporter first covering the event, while not overly quiet, eerie, or dumbstruck, also avoids panic and guesswork. She simply reports calmly and objectively. The September 11th homepage of BBC’s website contains repeated headlines about the terrorist attacks, but avoids catchphrases like “Day of Terror” (September 11 News…). Minimal pictures stand next to the headlines, not exceeding the textbox in size unlike CNN’s and ABC’s dominating photos. However, controversy ensued after a BBC reporter allegedly announced the fall of Tower Seven before it actually happened. Groups who refer to themselves as “truthers” claim that U.S. government, BBC, and other news and governance agencies took part in the attacks (911Truth.org). This controversy may generate suspicion, but it also serves as a perfect example of the “fear [that] pervades popular culture and the news media” (Altheide and Michalowski, 475) taking root in other forms of public discourse.

In Sri Lanka, an attack like 9-11 did not fall so far out of previously established problem frames. “It was not a new experience for our organisation – as Sri Lanka was undergoing a war during this period,” says Shameer Rasooldeen, CNN World View Correspondent and News1st reporter. “Over 60,000 people have been killed during the three-decade long war,” he adds. In regions used to real, constant threats, reporters and news broadcasters don’t need to turn to scare tactics. Here perhaps, a genuine need for awareness draws in enough viewers on its own. The United States, however, took a few days to fit the events within a somewhat familiar frame. “Subsequent to the aftermath of the attack, probably after two days, there were opinion pieces and even stories about survival and the reaction from the world,” Rasooldeen recalls. “[They] turned this incident in a way that created somewhat of a hatred towards the Muslim community around the world.” Here he notes US attempts, just days after the attack, to hold onto the audience by embellishing the events with controversy. Instead of continuing to encourage controversy, Rasooldeen suggests the US media report more on the subsequent attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan. “What about the human rights of the innocent civilians in these countries?” he asks. “Let’s not talk about terrorism alone. If we can make a difference in the people’s lives, let’s do it and start that effort now.”

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 did generate more global awareness within the news. According to a data generated by PDT Research, coverage of terrorism increased by 135 percent in the years following 9/11, coverage of US foreign policy by 102 percent (How 9/11…). However, journalists still deliver that global awareness in an exploitative manner. Foreign news gained a presence on the nightly newscast, but not at the expense of human interest and celebrity stories intended to draw viewers in. Just months after September 2001, a study conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism announced that “eight-in-ten evening news stories concern[ed] government, national or international affairs, up 67%” (Before and After). But four years later, the total ratio of hard to soft news hardly changed (How 9/11…). Only coverage of national hard news decreased significantly to make room for more international news. “Although subjects such as drugs and crime were the traditional ways of making people frightened, they are easily trumped by terrorism,” explains ADT Research’s Tyndall Report (How 9/11…). If the media sought increased viewer awareness, time spent on celebrities could instead catch viewers up on uncovered events leading up to the shock of 9/11. Instead, the press simply catered to the audience’s limited attention span, talking more about the world until that got boring. Terrorism, today, has lost its genuine shock factor, and “the war on terror” serves simply as another phrase to generate that comfortable fear that keeps viewers hooked. If an event as unexpected, powerful and tragic didn’t change the sensational attitude behind news reporting, perhaps only a shift in news format will.

Works Cited
Altheide, David L. and R. Sam Michalowski. “Fear in the News: A Discourse of Control.” The Sociological Quarterly. 40.3. (1999): 475-503. Web. Feb. 6 2011.

9/11/01 – CNN News Coverage 1st 5 Minutes. 9 July 2007. Youtube. 5 Feb. 2011. Web. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfYQAPhjwzA.

“Arafat Horrified by Attacks, but Thousands of Palestinians Celebrate; Rest of World Outraged.” FoxNews.com 12 Sept. 2001. Web. 6 Feb. 2011.

Williams, A.D. September 11 News. September11News.com. Web. 5 Feb. 2011.

“Before and After. How The War on Terrorism Has Changed The News Agenda.” journalism.org. Project for Excellence in Journalism, 19 Nov. 2001. Web. 5 Feb 2011.

“How 9-11 Changed the Evening News.” journalism.org. Project for Excellence in Journalism, 11 Sept. 2006. Web. 5 Feb 2011.

911Truth.org. 911Truth.org, 2001. Web. 6 Feb. 2011.

Altynai’s Reaction to 9/11 Reflection

I would have like to see an inclusion of how the foreign media portrays 9/11. Like I said before, terrorism isn’t covered as much in my country as it is in yours, so obviously I agree with you that there is a tabloidization of 9/11 and terrorism as a whole. Read more

Pen Pal Reaction: 9/11 from Iceland

“I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday. Because of the time difference it was after noon in Iceland and I went to my friends house after school. Her sister was sitting in their den watching what I thought was a Bruce Willis action movie. As I sat down I witnessed the second airplane fly into the towers.

I was horrified when I finally noticed that this was CNN she was watching and it was live. I immediately called my mother who was on the phone with my aunt in California who was hysterical because she couldn’t get reach of her husband and thought he was on one of the flights. Thank god she finally got reach of him and he scheduled a different flight.

The coverage of 9/11 was major in Iceland because of our connection with the US since WW2. The US had a naval base in Iceland up until 2006 so there are a lot of ties to America. Of course I felt an extremely strong connection to the US at this time but I also felt that Iceland as a whole was in shock because of this.

This horrible attack made the whole world vulnerable and not to mention our little unprotected island in the north.”

-Margret

Penpal: Conversation with Kenya

Me: Can you tell me your story about finding out about the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11/2001? Like, how you found out about it, when, and what you thought about it? Read more

Any Human Life and What it’s Worth

I’d like to pose a question to any one reading this and link it to terrorism, maybe illuminating some differences between terrorists and other extremists.  First the question:  How much do you value a human life regardless of age, race, height, sex, etc?  Could you ever strap someone into an outfit like this?

This is certainly a very generic question and one not to be taken lightly as some of those factors play an important role in how I view the worth of a human life.  I know that I value human life very highly compared to many things and I often value an individual’s life over the success of some whole.  Who am I to say who lives and dies even to enact change and reach some utopia?  Now I wonder what terrorists might say.  How do they value the life of a human. Read more

Grecian View of 9/11

This is my first terrorism-related correspondence with Ilias Kiritsis from Grece:

Read more

A Greek Jouranlist’s take on radio on September 11th

As part of my first correpsondence with Eva, I asked her what she thought of my examination of radio’s involvement with the Septemeber 11th attacks.  Her response didn’t surprise me. Read more

Terrorism and The Press

In the town of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 14-year-old Nataliya Chemayeva remembers being in shock as she listened to the Russian satellite radio.Attention, attention the United States of America has just been attacked.
Chemeyeva was sitting in her ninth grade class and stunned as footage of the World Trade Center towers collapsing shot across two of the three channels available in Turkmenistan.  “I still couldn’t believe that that was not a Hollywood screenplay but reality” said Chemeyeva. Read more
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Terrorism and the Press

This blog is an integral part of a special section of Honors 394 Spring 2010, Arizona State University. Rather than a routine history course this dynamic, interactive seminar explores the interplay between terrorism and television, and other media sources on-line and in print. 26 students and their global pen pals comprise the bloggers. We welcome all to share their opinions, pertinent observations, insights, comments, feedback. Please post in a responsible manner.