The September 11 terrorist attack in the New York City in 2001 was one of the main international events in the twenty first century. This attack involved the hijacking of three passenger airplanes, and coordinating attacks on critical buildings of the US using these planes. Two of the planes were used to target New York, the World Trade Center; and the third crashed into the Pentagon. The major news agencies around the world rushed to capture the events as soon as they occurred. News Agencies were essential in capturing the events in the news and keeping people informed about the current situation. Some news networks, such as ABC, were lucky to capture the incident in New York immediately after the first plane hit the World Trade Center (Internet Archive). This enabled them to capture the second plane as it crashed into the building causing it to collapse.
The news about this attack gave rise to feelings of insecurity among people, many of them were afraid to stay alone or get back to their homes. Many people felt that the US had been crippled by the attack. There was talk in the news about how the US could no longer protect itself from the terrorists that were operating within and from outside the borders of the country. Many people became hopeless as it seemed that the symbol of American capitalism and their wellbeing had been destroyed. It was also not clear how or why the planes had crushed into the buildings. Speculation and sensationalism became a part of the normal news in different media all over the world as the events unfolded (PBS).
Since most of the news media did not have a clear understanding of the events, they resulted in displaying the facts that they had without giving a clear account of the reasons and the development of the story. The vulnerability of the country during the time was a part of the hourly bulletins provided on the news networks. Rumors about the targeting of the White House and the Air Force One by the terrorists made the situation dire and increased feelings of hopelessness. News about the grounding of all airplanes in the US airspace was also influential. It was aimed at assuring the people that the nation had taken adequate measures to prevent the situation from escalating further that it already was. However, this position left the Americans feeling less secure and content about the situation (Pludowski 13).
Responsibility for the attacks was not placed on any person since there were no demands or threats prior to the event. However, many news networks were quick to lay down their speculations about the Al-Qaeda’s connection to the attack. The developing story in the news networks was accorded much attention in the news with different networks, such as the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) inviting guests and analysts to explore the issue (PBS). Many talk shows held interactive sessions where ordinary Americans commented on the best way forward for the country. The expressions of people about the event showed their rage towards Al-Qaeda and Afghanistan. People felt that the Muslim extremists from Afghanistan were responsible and had to be held accountable and duly punished. People were aware of the vast number of casualties, which elicited the strong reactions towards the terrorists being responsible. Many citizens felt that Islam was responsible for their problems, and suggested that their capital should be attacked. The citizens expressed such strong sentiments towards Muslims as a people. The fact that no demands were made also placed the news networks in a precarious situation as they struggled to deliver complete news but had many gaps in the information. The goal of the terrorists was to kill the Americans, as opposed to having any demands met. They also aimed at making a statement to the American people that they could hurt them, and that they were not safe.
International news agencies, such as Cable News Network (CNN), ran stories from people that had witnessed the events and captured their graphic emotions about people who had jumped from the burning buildings down to their death in an attempt to save their lives. Eyewitness accounts were not as frequently used in the reporting as the use of videos and expressionless photographs of the situation. Information on the events was scanty even for the most advanced news networks; thus, they made every effort to deliver all the information they could (CNN). The network was very efficient in reporting the actions and decisions taken by the state and federal agencies in alleviating the situation. These measures included increasing border patrol on the Mexican and Canadian borders. They also followed communications from the FAA concerning flights in the US airspace closely, to report any problems arising from them. The Guardian reported the events on September 12 under the Rubric, ‘War on America’, and went ahead to give an account of the events and the likely implications on the foreign policy. Some international news agencies, such as the Guardian, also published articles that placed the blame for the terrorist attack on the American people for their arrogance and national egoism. The author of the article, Seamus Milne, felt that Americans had failed to address inequalities and injustices, which motivated the bombers (Pludowski 34).
The PBS news network was very much interested in communicating the events taking place at the Pentagon. These events included attempts to put out the fire that had been started by the impact of the jetliner on the building. The fact that the pentagon and other national security officials were so adamant to return to work on Wednesday morning showed their willingness to resolve the matter. PBS covered the events in Washington and efforts made to put the country back on track. Airing of the Cabinet briefing by the President on Wednesday morning was a sure step toward restoring a sense of normalcy in the country. It also restored the faith of the public in the nation’s ability to resolve the issue. The resolution to have flags flying at half-staff and declaring a national day of mourning and unity was a communication of the state of the situation, and the need for people to be united in order to go through the disaster (PBS).
Eyewitnesses reported the impact of the first plane on the WTC as a possible bomb, and it was not clear whether it was an accident or an attack. The impact of the second plane on the South tower made it clear that the crush was deliberate. Anchors and reporters had a difficult time trying to explain what had happened. However, the reporters were able to recollect themselves and maintain focus on reporting the unfolding events.
One of the main ideas that were excluded in the news was the conspiracy theories about the attack. There was a faction of critics and the media that believed the attack was an inside job conducted by the CIA in collaboration with some Muslim extremists aimed at earning the Bush administration support for the Iraq war. The coverage provided by the media on the events of September 11 was appropriate because they were reporting facts and were avoiding speculation at the time, which would have sparked tension an increased anxiety. The events were reported as they occurred including the decisions made by FAA and Pentagon. The coverage included eyewitness accounts and detailed videos of the events (CNN).
The media were also instrumental in propagating the belief that Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden had been involved in the attack. This elicited harsh reactions from the public concerning Afghanistan and, to some extent, against Muslims. Although some media houses made efforts to address this rage by holding talk shows centering on the involvement of the Afghanistan people in the issue, most media networks did not address the issue at all.
The reporting of the events of September 11, 2001 was highly detailed, and most media networks provided good coverage of the events. The understanding of the events as they unfolded is mostly similar to their understanding today. Most people saw the terrorist attack as a direct attack on the American values that aimed at shaking their resilience and ability to fight back. However, the media were effective in coverage of the encouragement given by the president and other politicians, such as the New York Governor and other government representatives. These messages were pivotal in instilling hope in the public, and giving them strength to overcome the tragedy.