Wednesday, March 31, 2010

9/11 - News Or History?

By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network


WASHINGTON - Today I had the honor and the privilege of addressing Mike Freedman's George Washington University class on the history of journalism at Washington's Newseum. Against the backdrop of the Newseum's spectacular exhibit on 9/11 - which examines how the news media covered that tragic event - I was asked to talk to the students about my experiences on September 11, 2001, At the time, I was CNNRadio's New York correspondent.

A number of thought provoking questions were tossed my way. But one of them caused me pause.

Mike, professor of media and public affairs and executive director of George Washington's Global Media Institute, asked me whether I thought 9/11 was news - or history.

After considering this question - which had never before been posed to me - I had to answer that it is both.

The actual events of that day are now part of history. But 9/11 is a story that continues to this day.

Aside from the obvious - the increased security at airports, the way cops patrol subways and other potential targets in New York City and elsewhere - there are other factors that make the terrorist attacks of that day newsworthy today.

Like how "the pit" - as many in New York still call the World Trade Center site - still hasn't been redeveloped nearly nine years after the attacks.

How many of the relatives of those who died still have received no remains - and how - if the city has its way - their final resting place will be a garbage dump on Staten Island.

How so many of those who responded on and following September 11 are sick and dying.

How our federal tax dollars are allocated today because of the attacks. So much money going into homeland security and the military. Prosecuting a war in Afghanistan and Pakistan - ostensibly in search of the perpetrators. How that takes away from spending on other programs that - in these hard economic times - are being cut.

So yes, the attacks of September 11, 2001 are part of history. But the news story that began that day remains a story today.

Perhaps in the future - the Newseum will expand the exhibit to look at the history of the extended coverage of 9/11. But not yet. The story - continues.

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Talk to Gary at 5 PM New York time weekdays on News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network at www.joinchatnow.com. There is no charge.

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