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9/11 and the media

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  • 9/11 and the media

    Ok. This may start a heated discussion but as BigAl says, it's been rather quiet in here lately.

    I had a lively discussion tonight with a few people, about whether or not the media (American media in this case) is over saturating people with September 11th coverage. Has it come to the point where it has begun to cheapen the memory of that day? Where is the line between the coverage of news and the exploitation of events for ratings / profit?

    On a related issue, do you pay more or less attention now to international events and does the media do a good job of getting us this information? I had thought and hoped that Americans would have begun to pay more attention to the world beyond our borders after 9/11, but that does not seem to be the case. (at least to me) The media seems preoccupied with maintaining our insular attitude. It is almost as if many Americans would like the outside world to go away and leave them alone. I cringe to think of the number of people I know who, even now, can't find Afghanistan on a map and have no idea why the seemingly unimportant events in a small country can have drastic consequences for the rest of the world.

    While I'm venting... Our isolationist attitude cost us and Europe dearly in World War 2. Had we waited even longer to enter the war, odds are England would have been defeated and worse, the Nazis may have even developed nuclear weapons long before the United States. Are we making the same mistakes now? Is our continued national ignorance about the outside world costing us our security? To relate this to the other questions, what responsibility does the media have in deciding what Americans should be paying attention to?

  • #2

    I just sat here and replied to your post with a rather lengthy post of my own. Then I realized that it could easily turn political in nature, and I try not to get involved in discussions of that type. It's not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with you or anyone else, I'm just taking the easy way out. You do raise an interesting question, but I think this could open up a can of worms.



    • #3
      That's true Ed and I have to admit I was in a bit of a cranky mood last night when I wrote it! Feel free to zap the thread if you think the topic is a bit to heated. I would like to read your response if you want to email it to me!


      • #4
        The events in NY were chewed over immediately after the event on these pages although with no reference to media interpretation, the images spoke for themselves.


        • #5
          The media always take a hot topic and beat it to death. Look at the Clinton/Lewinsky coverage or Elian Gonzalaz coverage or how lond did OJ last. When they get a juicy bone they don't let go very quickly and I guess that's just the nature of the beast.

          Now as to my personal experience, sometimes I am getting so sick of hearing about the Arab nations and terrorist groups yet I have been addicted to world news like never before. I do have to stand back at times and take a breath and sort out the hype from the facts. But ultimately it gave me a better sense of who is running our country (besides the president and vice P) and alot more about the world beyond our borders. I guess that's a good thing but it does get overwhelming when you were used to a peaceful little life where the world outside was but a brief comment on news you barely heard.

          A war may be imminent but my main concern is to plan, fund and supply our forces and allies in a way that most effectively protects those brave people fighting this war. Their safety is tops in my book. So if it has to be, then lets give them the best tools of the trade to do their jobs.


          • #6
            Chris, you bring up a good point- "the images spoke for themselves." I guess I should clarify why I was starting to get a little upset last night. A special TV program was shown last night in the United States, which revealed a great deal of unedited ground zero footage. I did not see the program, but the people I spoke with who did, say it was not only very moving but unlike any other coverage of the events they had seen. It sounds like this program did very little to manipulate the viewer and just used the images and sound to speak for themselves.

            September 11th IS a topic, which should get media attention and should stay on our national consciousness for a long time. I just worry that the media will begin to treat it like an OJ, or Lewinsky type event. Even many of the victims are saying that the overwhelming coverage is preventing them from dealing with their personnel loss. Perhaps the media should just step back and ignore some stories, so that people can have some peace.


            • #7
              Ref your last paragraph.

              I think its a vain hope, the media circus must have grist for its mill and the events of September in NY and Afghanistan provide the material.

              It amazes me how Afghanistan is once again on the newsfront. Down the years 3 of the great powers have landed on its soil and I don't think any will have had happy departures.


              • #8
                Chris. Regarding Afghanistan - One wonders if, when all of this dies down, if anyone will pay any more attention to Afghanistan. The United States lost interest in Afghanistan after they won their war against the Soviet Union and this indifference indirectly led to the formation of the Taliban. Our media has a tendency to beat something to death and then you never hear about it again (Haiti and Panama come to mind). If the public has no idea what is going on in the world, it's no wonder we can be so easily caught off guard.


                • #9
                  Just as a matter of interest relating to how fickle the media is, has the elections in Zimbabwe made the news in the US?


                  • #10
                    BigAl - Yes it has, although I don't think many people pay it much attention. I was watching a debate on Cspan (a news / government TV network) this past weekend and they were talking about about what sort of news the American public responded to. A news anchor mentioned that as soon as the network goes to a foreign correspondent or does a segment focusing on an international story, the ratings go way down.


                    • #11

                      For at least the past week (until yesterday), the situation in Zimbabwe was making it into the "other top news" headline listing on the CNN homepage. As of yesterday, I had to go to the "World" section to get info. Today the news in Zimbabwe was pushed off of the "other top news" list by such worthy reports as David Letterman (late-night talk show host) resigning with CBS.

                      I don't watch TV news when I'm home, so I don't know how prevalent Zimbabwe is on the nightly newscasts, but in Asia a couple of weeks ago, CNN was covering Zimbabwe 24 hours a day it seemed.



                      • #12

                        I hope you didn't think I was ignoring you. I've pretty much been away for a couple of days. No, I would never zap a thread just because it might have *potential* for bad vibes. And if things should ever get too heated (to the point of people insulting one another), I would simply zap the responses that deserved to be zapped. This group has been *great* about getting along with each other. In fact, the people here have been the best of any group I've ever been on.



                        • #13
                          I’d like to respond to all the questions raised and the comments that were made relative to the 9/11, etc. Since I am at work right now, I will only touch on some of the things mentioned.

                          I do not see any problem with discussions of this type, as long they are just that, discussions. This could be very interesting and informative if we avoid personalities and respect all points of view.

                          I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy history. It is always interesting to evaluate current events in the light of history. I am currently concentrating on the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers, including how our government evolved in the early 1800’s. Many of the issues are similar today, but there was a greater sense of purpose back then.

                          I live in NYC and the 9/11 tragedy is very real and up close. A neighborhood that I frequented often is gone. People and business that I know were hurt by it. Yet, I agree that there is a certain element of over-kill in the media. However, I’ve been very critical of the media and their news coverage for years. 9/11 should never be forgotten, but it should not be in our face all day long.

                          A recent article in the NY Times discussed other NYC tragedies, some of which I had never heard of. One was a ferry the sunk in the East River in the 1920’s with over 1500 picnickers drowned. Adjusted for the population, it was a greater percentage of loss of life. The gist of the article was that people move on and several generations later it is often forgotten.

                          I think that 9/11 should fall be compared with Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, etc. They should always be remembered for further generations to know.

                          Isolationism has been a major flaw in the United State’s foreign policy far too often. We would probably have lost WW2 if Roosevelt had not got around congress with the lend lease program. Congress would never agree to sell them supplies, so it was called a leasing program. As it was, it was almost too late.

                          Most of our international problems since the end of WW2 are the result of varying degrees of isolationism. The Middle East mess is related to the peace at the end of WW1. There is a good book on this called, “The Peace to End All Peace”, which deals with the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the division of the Mid-East lands by the Allies. These two subjects requires considerably more detail that I can go into right now. However, most of the Asian conflicts after WW2 are related to our isolationism.

                          I’m almost finished with a book about the constitutional convention of 1787. It is very enlightening. All the issues of North-South, large state-small state, national-state’s rights, liberal-conservative, etc. were in play. It is remarkable that there was enough compromises to enable a Constitution to be written. There was a sense of purpose and the realization that one must be written for a sibling nation to survive. I do not see today’s politicians having the same sense of purpose. I suspect that many of them use the constitution to prove their points, but they probably do not have a real understanding of how it was written and what it actually stands for.

                          I would enjoy a thread that dealt with history, politics and social issues.



                          • #14
                            I hope I haven't given people the wrong impression with my post. Alan said:

                            "I do not see any problem with discussions of this type, as long they are just that, discussions. This could be very interesting and informative if we avoid personalities and respect all points of view. "

                            I certainly agree with every bit of that. But it has long been known that when discussions turn political, there is a strong chance for something more than friendly disagreement. That's why I try to stay out of that type of discussion. I do *not* however, think it is wrong for anyone to start any thread they like.



                            • #15
                              airubin - Great response! I would be interested to know what your take is on the recent 6-month memorials. Is it too soon for such things?

                              Your point about not allowing things to be forgotten is a good one. However, who passes this information on to future generations? In the past it may have been books, articles or even oral history. These days, especially with my generation, the primary means of communicating about the past is through television, Internet and movies. Pearl Harbor is a good example. There have been many good books on the subject and some excellent documentaries, but I wonder how many young people think they "know" Pearl Harbor just by watching the recent blockbuster film?

                              Ed - I agree! This is a great group and it helps to have fantastic moderators!

                              DJ - Sorry I did not respond to your post earlier. I could not agree more about the emphasis on the safety of our troops. I think there is a big debate raging among the military brass about just how to reorganize our military to better deal with 21st century threats. Personally, I like the emphasis on stealth, the use of drones and better protection for ground forces.


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