Media means capitalizing fears

Jen Steer

On Sept. 11, 2001, my high school principal came over the loud speaker and said nothing more than “Despite the events taking place in New York this morning, we are asking that all teachers turn off their TVs and continue on with class as usual.” None of us students knew what this meant, not even our teacher did. Our classroom television wasn’t on and my algebra teacher, Mr. Hudson, jokingly unplugged it from the wall.

Our school’s administrators thought they were protecting us from the images of the planes flying into the World Trade Center. But instead the administration just left us unprepared for the graphic pictures of people jumping out of buildings that would meet us when we got home.

In just a day’s time the media was able to pump out story after story about the incident and the 24-hour network news channels devoted every second to the tragedy. Not much has changed since then. After five years, we are still asking ourselves the same questions and these are the questions that we see every night on CNN. Are we safer? Where is Osama bin Laden? Will there be another attack of this magnitude? The media, as well as many in the entertainment industry, just continue to capitalize on our fears to bring in more viewers.

“Are we safer now?” is the constant tag for stories on the news networks on a regular basis. Anderson Cooper does a story on it every six months. Come on, Anderson, you’ve done about 10 shows on the topic, don’t you know what the answer is by now? However, the news is not the only source giving us our information on the war on terror.

Today, ABC will air the second part of its six-hour miniseries, “The Path to 9/11,” a “documentary” supposedly based on the Sept. 11 commission reports. According to the Washington Post on Sept. 7, many members of the Clinton administration are upset, not only with the way their actions have been portrayed, but also with the alleged scenes in the movie that contradict the official documents of the days leading up to the attacks. The movie is even co-executive produced by the Republican who previously chaired the commission, Thomas Kean. If Democratic accusations are correct, he let false information make its way to the American people through this movie.

But the movies and the media have not done us entirely wrong. is streaming the video from the day terrorists attacked the Twin Towers. While it may be difficult for some to relive the day, the video should remind us of the events and the emotions we were feeling as we watched the towers fall to the ground.

In five years, the world has not really changed that much. There are still unanswered questions. Films like Flight 93 and World Trade Center attempt to fill the void left by the lack of information. And although these movies are based on real events, a trip to the movies is not the best way to learn your nation’s history.

Looking back, I hate that I did not get to experience the tragedy on Sept. 11 when it happened. But I hope future generations will look to actual video to learn about what happened, and not rely on any on-screen portrayals.

Jen Steer is a junior broadcast news major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].