Wednesday, September 12, 2012

you're missing

"Everything is everything, but you're missing."

Notice anything missing from yesterday's front page of The New York Times?

Take a good look. Glance at the date again.

I'll give you a reminder: September 11, 2012.

Anything significant about that date?

So, let's ask the question again, perhaps in a different way. Notice any mention of an incident, a coordinated and well-funded terrorist attack in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania that happened 11 years ago on this date and killed more than 3,000 people?

Nope, I didn't see anything either.

I am at an absolute loss for words here about The New York Times' decision not to include a single mention of the 9/11 anniversary on their front page.

Actually, I do have some words.

Appalled.

Stunned.

Dismayed.

Angry.

Saddened.

My first reaction upon reading about this was, ironically, not too far removed from my reaction when hearing that a plane struck one of the towers. That's a joke, right? Some kind of horrible accident?

Um, no.

The omission of coverage on 9/11/2012 on the front page by The New York Times was deliberate.

"The pain, the outrage, the loss – these never fade. The amount of journalism, however, must," wrote Margaret Sullivan, the Times' reader representative, in yesterday's opinion pages.

Not like the folks at The New York Times give a damn about my opinion, but indulge me as I take issue with this notion that "the amount of journalism, however, must."

I'm having some trouble with that line of thinking, folks. Alas, The Gray Lady isn't helping me out with her reasoning.

Sullivan writes in her blog post that she discussed the diminished coverage with two of her editors, including Wendell Jamieson, the deputy metropolitan editor. “You look for an angle that has news value,” he said, “and you ask can we mark this day in a creative, exciting and journalistically meaningful way.”

New York Times editor Jill Abramson is also quoted as saying last month, on an appearance on “Morning Joe” (which I have additional separate issues with, but that's another soapbox rant), that the Times is “less of a New York paper than it was when I was growing up here and addicted to reading it.”
New York is still part of our DNA and important to the soul of the publication, but the actual metro area has, over time, been not the main part of our print readership. And online it’s more of an international and national audience.
Back to Sullivan's blog post, in which she also writes:
You might call it “anniversary journalism.” Every year, the anniversary of D-Day, the commemoration of Veterans Day and other important dates cause journalists to try to find the right balance between what readers think is appropriate and necessary and the lack of any actual news to drive the coverage.
Often, other than the local events surrounding an anniversary, there isn’t always much to say that is original. Yet, readers, understandably, want the dates remembered in a substantial way.
Yes. Yes, we do. At least, this one does.

So, if I'm understanding this reasoning correctly, the lack of journalistic coverage given to 9/11 by The New York Times was a) deliberate; b) done because there wasn't anything new to say about an event that happened 11 years ago and c) doesn't pertain to the paper's main readership, which is an international and national audience.

The deliberateness issue is one that ... well, God help us all.

The nothing new to say? That's sloppy journalism at its best. Pure and simple.

Doesn't pertain to the international and national audience readership? I'm sorry, I was under the impression that 9/11 was a global event, one that affected people from every nation and changed the world as we know it.

I understand that the Times did some stories a few days, weeks, whatever in advance of the 9/11 anniversary. Cool. Let me dust off your Pulitzer.

I'm well aware that I am probably in the minority with this thinking, thanks to several smart and usually reasonable and nice Facebook friends of mine trying their damnedest to set me straight. They are telling me that maybe we've had enough, that it is more than time to move on, to let the families grieve in peace.

Well, I don't presume to know what the hell the loved ones of those killed want or don't want. I'm not their spokesperson. I'd imagine that, to a person, they probably have mixed and complex feelings; that they remember, recognize and respect this day in their own way. I will say this: The people I know who have experienced a loss through 9/11 are ones who I have come to know through their words in their blogs and their books.

People like Allison and Abigail.

By sharing their words with us on the anniversary of this fateful day, Allison and Abigail are asking us to remember, too. Yes, they have moved on. But make no mistake: they still remember and they always will.

And so should we. And if some of us need a heavy handed reminder to do that, I have no problem with that.

Maybe that's one of the reasons why I'm having a bit of a hard time with The New York Times not acknowledging the anniversary on 9/11 itself - NOT TO MENTION the day after, relegating the event to a front page photo caption and a news story buried on page A24 that was so shoddy in its reporting that it could have been recycled from any of the previous 9/11 anniversaries. It didn't even feel like any of the reporters were there.

How does it then become okay for The New York Times to silence Allison and Abigail, to make the judgment call for them that the amount of journalism must fade?

I find that unacceptable.

Because when we allow the coverage to fade to black and when we allow a television station to usurp a moment of silence to keep up with the Kardashians' chirpy blabber about breasts, this is what happens:

We run the risk of cheapening a day of sacrifice from people crashing 500 miles an hour to their deaths in a Pennsylvania field, from people being blown out of their office chairs at the Pentagon, from people rushing up skyscraper stairs in towers of flames in Manhattan. Where once heroes and heroines busted down doors to save lives, someday soon they'll be honored in the way we do the Pilgrims, with a special 4 am Doorbuster September 11 Let's Roll Back the Prices to 2001! Sale at Walmart.

Yesterday, in making a decision to fade out the amount of journalism coverage given to 9/11 on the actual day, The New York Times dropped a ball as big as that one in Times Square. And in doing so, we saw the ushering in of a new era.

One that erodes our stories, our memories, our history, our duty, our obligation, our legacy to 3,000 people silenced forever.

"They took all the footage off my T.V.
Said it's too disturbing for you and me
It'll just breed anger that's what the experts say
If it was up to me I'd show it everyday....
....Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going thru a living hell....
....Have you forgotten all the people killed?
Yeah, some went down like heroes in that Pennsylvania field
Have you forgotten about our Pentagon?
All the loved ones that we lost and those left to carry on....
...Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten?"



copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

2 comments:

Julie said...

Wow! I hadn't seen anything about this before. I can't believe they made that decision. How is this not news anymore? This is an excellent post. Thank you for sharing it.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I'm stunned. I purposely didn't post/retweet/share anything on Tuesday that DIDN'T have something to do with the events of 9/11. Editors of the NYTimes just made kids in history classes everywhere fist pump because the editors completely dismissed the importance of history to the present. So disappointed in this decision.