Series Intro: Covering 9/11, 20 Years Later

On Sept. 11, 2001, four hijacked airplanes crashed into New York’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania field. These coordinated terrorist attacks directly resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths; thousands more were injured. Media played a significant role on 9/11, as stunned Americans were glued to the news. The media continued to provide information and analysis during the tragedies’ aftermath. 

In this 20th anniversary year, Journalism History will publish 14 essays placing concepts related to 9/11 coverage in historical context. The top three submissions to our essay competition, unanimously selected by a panel of five judges, will be featured in the journal and on the podcast. Those essays are by Carolyn Kitch (Temple University), Will Mari (Louisiana State University), and Pete Smith (Mississippi State University) & Hazel James Cole (University of West Georgia).

Additionally, one installment in the 9/11 essay series will be posted on the website each month throughout 2021, beginning in February.

  • February: Christine Smith (California State University, Channel Islands) will discuss news coverage of 9/11 in Arab-American Affairs magazine. (Read the essay)
  • March: Cayce Myers (Virginia Tech) will examine the legal legacy of 9/11, the PATRIOT Act. (Read the essay)
  • April: Lorraine Ahearn (University of South Alabama) will explore newspapers’ delivery of breaking news via extras. (Read the essay)
  • May: Rachel Somerstein (SUNY New Paltz) will demonstrate the obstacles photographers faced during the aftermath of the airplane crashes. (Read the essay)
  • July: Tom Mascaro (Bowling Green State University) will discuss the FRONTLINE (PBS) documentary “Faith & Doubt at Ground Zero.”
  • August: Sada Reed (Arizona State University) will write about the lack of media coverage devoted to ongoing health effects 9/11 survivors face.
  • September: Lisa Burns (Quinnipiac University) will share what she has learned from nearly 20 years examining the impact of 9/11 media coverage on students.
  • October: Paulette Kilmer (University of Toledo) will focus on narratives of love and friendship in newspaper coverage of 9/11.
  • November: Bradley Wilson (Midwestern State University) will look at how scholastic media covered 9/11.
  • December: Yasuhito Abe (Komazawa University) will examine how the icon of Pearl Harbor was invoked as a frame of reference for understanding 9/11.

Featured Image: “Dark City,” by Dennis Leung (CC BY 2.0)

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