September 11 and Role Of Media

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Media helped to make the differences in these memories not so different as their individual memories were influenced as they discovered more information from the media. Robert continued in saying, when I was finally able to go back to New York City, a city I had loved all my life, I have an image in my head that I will never get out. The towers weren’t there anymore, it was a painful thing to see, it was a frightening thing to see, and it was an awing thing to see.

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You know you hear people say ‘I can’t believe my eyes’, well that was certainly one of those days. Something I had looked up to and wanted to work in all my life, was suddenly gone (Taddeo, Robert). These images that the media displayed repetitively as a way to remember the devastation, individuals had seen up close and personal. For them, the medias repetition triggered their individual memories, some more extreme than others ranging from triggering severe PTSD or the mere recollection of the events that have impacted their life. The media caused those individual memories to be heightened by the constant repetition of the suffering they endured that day by the media. The September 11 terrorist attacks were one of the most memorable events in United States history due to the fact that it was one of the most documented events, as professional news crews, filmmakers, videographers, and photographers stood in the middle of the chaos to catch documentation of the event in the evolving media age. In a survey that asked Americans, aged 18 and older, to name the top ten events they believed impacted America within their lifetime, 76 percent of all Americans named 9/11 as one of the most significant (Wilkinson, James).

The overwhelming amount of media coverage surrounding the attacks created a generated a sense of national unity as people were glued to the visual images of the crashing planes and huge dark clouds of smoke that took over the television networks. The media broadcasting of the events unified the memories of the public as millions watched the same videos and heard the same stories, which become ingrained in their memory. The intense media broadcastings have become so entrenched in the minds of the American people that it still resonates with them as one of the most impactful events in U.S. history. For those who actually witnessed the event, these traumatizing images will be forever ingrained into their memory as they deal with the nightmares and psychological trauma for years to follow. However, thanks to the media, those who weren’t physically there can still have those haunting images ingrained into their memory as if they were there. The September 11 terrorist attacks led to a disperse of shocking global media events that dominated public attention and provoked reams of discourse, reflection, and writing (Kellner, Douglas).

The media gave the public the idea that they witnessed these events, when in reality they learned about it through television. The fact the public learned about the attacks through the media have shaped the way the event has been perceived. The images and discourses of television networks framed the 9/11 attacks to stir up war hysteria, while they carefully planned and executed media spectacles. The mass media coverage of the attacks allowed those who were glued to their television screens to have the I was there kind of feeling. This is extremely powerful in how the remembrance of the event was shaped. Kellner argues that the media spectacles that came after the attacks were intended to terrorize the US, attack symbolic targets, unfold a terror spectacle, as well as to undermine the U.S. and global economy (Kellner, Douglas).

The media utilized the dramatic images to grab the nation’s attention, as people couldn’t take their eyes off their television screens, thus creating widespread panic. No matter where you were during the attack, the images of the buildings bursting into flames and crumbling to the ground, people jumping out the windows as their only hope of survival, and chaos around the city created a sense of fear throughout the nation. The media contributed to the growing fear that no one was safe, as the nation could be subject to another attack anywhere at any time. The media greatly dramatized the attacks as they replayed images over and over and overemphasized the events. As time went on after, by still broadcasting the traumatizing images over and over again, the media contributed to the formation of the collective memory of 9/11 as those who weren’t there were able to have these powerful images resonating in their mind for years to come as if they were there. The media coverage of the September 11 attacks consisted of mostly televised media, which promoted a dramatic emotional response throughout the United States. The fact that the attack was broadcasted live in real time where people could visually see the destruction with their own eye’s triggered fear. Televised media coverage is a hotter form than printed media because it engages more of the public’s senses, which requires much less thought and imagination about the event because the events are being portrayed right in front of you (Mitnik, 11).

Having read about the attack in a news article would have still caused concern from the public, but seeing the events unfold in real time on television had a much stronger immediate impact on the public’s reaction. The televised media coverage is really what instilled mass panic spreading across the nation as it promoted fear of terrorism. The media delivered the message that the United States was under attack and that the American public should be afraid. The mass amount of televised media coverage surrounding the 9/11 terrorist attacks contributed to the formation of collective memory of the event as it led to a universal fear of terrorism and feelings of vulnerability. While some had the unfortunate opportunity of directly experiencing the attack first hand, the rest of the public experienced it indirectly through the media coverage. As a result, the media stirred up reactions from the public as they watched the events unfold on television. The overwhelming amount of fear caused by the media portrayal of the attacks instilled chaos and concern for the fundamentals of American society. In an interview, Robert tells how Seeing the repeating photos of the devastation and catastrophic events, and the constant mention of the terrorist activities instilled the idea that there could be more to come, it was an alarming and frightening thing, so it impacted my day to day life for a while (Taddeo, Robert).

The media instilled a type of fear in Americans that impacted their everyday life. For many, it served as a wakeup call that the United States isn’t such a glorified, protected bubble and that anything can happen at any time. Rather than forming their own beliefs about the event, the media told the public that they should be scared, and they should go about life differently. This caused a disruption of American lives and threatened American institutions. The media served as the communication of individual memories of the attacks to the public which then led to the creation of the collective memory of the tragic events that occurred. Typically, media outlets all have differing opinions as they all represent conflicting political and personal viewpoints but in this case all of the networks were in unison, as they delivered the facts of the event to the public. For once, the networks were not focused on competing with one another. Rather, they were focused on getting their facts right. For example, for CBS News it didn’t matter to the CBS organization if they were first to report news, but instead CBS was concerned only with getting the story right (Nisbet, Matt).

Usually, all of the networks are focused on competing to get the story out first but such a tragic attack on the nation actually unified the networks, which does not happen often. CBS even revealed that the news organizations were sharing footage of the events with each other (Nisbet, Matt). News networks rarely share their information with competing networks because they all want to have the exclusive story. In this case, the reporters were Americans too and they did not care about fighting for the story exclusives. They were able to put their competition aside and focus on making sure that the public was informed about what was going on by reporting accurate facts and stories. As a result, the public remembered the events the same because millions of people watched the same information covered on varying media networks. Rather then their memory being skewed based on what media outlet they chose to receive their information from, everyone was given the same information. Robert tells his memory of the media coverage as being very unified and informative. No matter what media outlet you were watching, there were no opinions involved it was just showing what was going on with the goal of relaying information to the people (Taddeo, Robert).

This was a very rare site to see with the different media outlets. Even with big events that capture the whole nation like this, the outlets tend to differ based on their political views and opinions. But, with such a tragic event they were American citizens first this time and reporters second, as they were just as scared and eager to find out more information as the rest of the public. Covering this event was an extremely important task for media outlets because they served as the direct form of communication to the public. The public formed a collective memory based of the information that the media outlets gave them, which was unified by the media outlets reporting in unity. Although the attacks created mass devastation, the media coverage eventually led to an immense amount of patriotism and unity across the United States. In the weeks following, the public was in agreement that the groups that were held responsible for the terrorist attacks were a common enemy. After the initial shock began to wear off, Many Americans reacted to the assaults with a renewed and aggressive patriotism, which included displaying the flag, but with deeper manifestations, which was showcased all over the media networks (Jameson, John). At this time, media outlets began to unify the United States as people started to make sense of what had happened. It became clear that the people of the United States were not going to let those held responsible take away the spirit and pride of Americans. In an editorial in the Chillicothe (Ohio) Star, about a year after the attacks, 9/11 was described as the day that America discovered itself. How strong and united a great people can be when confronted with great evil and put to the ultimate test of survival (Jameson, John).

The relentless media coverage of the attacks created an important cultural meaning for the nation, as it led to 9/11 becoming a major part of the background behind the culture of the United States. The initial response of the public was fear, but as time went on the fear died down and the feelings of anger and rage toward those held responsible were fueled. As a result, the media links the collective memory of 9/11 to an instilled sense of patriotism. The media also started to shift the public’s attention to the people responsible, shifting political ideologies as people began to form their own political opinions regarding Muslims and those associated with al-Qaeda. As anger grew toward those who were held responsible for the attacks, Americans formed generalized stereotypes and negative feelings for all Palestinians, Muslims, and Israelis as they became considered the enemy of the United States. The media instilled the idea that the victims of the attack were murder victims rather than war casualties and the perpetrators should be killed in battle. The media is the reason for why the American public collectively associated Muslims and Islamists with terrorism. This media created a frame of vengeance the publiccategorized the victims as individuals, but the perpetrators as a group, and was associated with even stronger support for a military response than a frame that viewed that attack purely in the context of war (Mitnik, 13).

The way the media framed the terrorist acts of September 11 contributed to the pouring of outcry that action needs to be taken against the terrorists. The media portrayed the Middle East as the harboring for terrorism and hatred for the United States. The media also served to place blame on Muslims as the offenders, which shifted ideologies of many Americans. The extensive media coverage had a major influence of 9/11 becoming a long lasting tragedy, as it is has been imbedded into the culture of the United States. The United States will forever be fundamentally changed, which was shown through the changes in law enforcement, air travel laws and regulations, and American fundamental. Some of the change was physically seen, such as the fact that the amount of surveillance and safety precautions had increased dramatically. This ranged from changes in taking off your shoes at the airport to stricter deportation enforcements. The nation’s overall attitudes and outlook have changed, especially with concerns of safety and privacy. The media serves as a link between the world’s individual and collective memories of the September 11 attacks through the intense amount of coverage from the day of the attacks.

The 9/11 attacks were the most documented event in United States history and, as a result, had the largest long-term impact on the nation. Without the work of the media, the attack would not have been seen on such a wide scale and thus would not have led to the widespread drastic reactions that it did. As the years continue to pass, memories associated with 9/11 continue to be solidified through the work of the media. Although the coverage has slowed down since 2001, there will continue to be coverage of the attack for generations to come. The topic is talked about so often and broadcasted so much that it has become extremely common for individuals to mistake their personal memories with information they have learned about on television over the years. The events of this tragedy will be passed down from generation to generation as it has become a part of the culture of the United States. The impact of the intense televised media coverage throughout the past seventeen years since the day of the attack, has served as the linkage between individual memories of 9/11 into the formation of collective memory as individual stories are told and made into a generalized shared cultural knowledge. The extensive role of the media has shaped the shared cultural knowledge of the September 11 attacks through the exploration and commemoration of those who experienced the tragedy first hand. ??

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