Our View: 9/11 below the fold

DKS Editors

Summary: During a tricky period, we struggle with how to frame tragedy.

When brainstorming story ideas in a meeting earlier this week, The Stater editors stalled when faced with what to do with Wednesday’s paper — 12 years since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Someone asked if there was a memorial service planned we could cover. Someone else suggested the coverage we provided on the tenth anniversary was enough until the fifteenth. Finally, someone articulated our dilemma: At what point does 9/11 no longer become news and enters the realm of history? At what point should we, as members of the news media, not place as much emphasis on it?

For example, last year’s front page of The New York Times made no mention of the attacks. Margaret Sullivan, one of the paper’s editors, wrote in a blog post defending the move: “The pain, the outrage, the loss – these never fade. The amount of journalism, however, must.”

We made the ultimate decision to put a story about the 9/11 on the front page — but below the fold. The article is not directly about what happened that day but rather interviews some students about some of the factors surrounding our decision. Does growing up in a post-9/11 world make us conflicted about how to frame a tragedy we feel we’ve always known?

In our small sample, we found you generally agreed the date will never be forgotten until those alive that day are gone. Whether it’s history or news or both, you say, it’s still affecting us.

Dominating the front page today is a story about the trend of student enrollment at Kent State the day after the school released its annual report. It’s a more immediate, local, current and impactful story. Our task is not to memorialize history but rather discuss it as a context for current events.

Anniversaries can be tricky because certain years seem more convenient to use as measuring sticks to reflect on societal change. But in the end, news is all about the present. News consists of issues and topics that you talk about with your friends.

Not everyone will talk about enrollment statistics, but while 9/11 will likely cross everyone’s mind at some point today, it won’t be running into you at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. It won’t be filling classrooms and paying tuition. It won’t be supporting all of the campus activities and groups you’re a part of.

Today, there was a story we felt to be more newsworthy for you. As Americans, we’re not forgetting 9/11. As reporters, we’re focused on what matters most right now while still honoring history.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose names are listed above.