Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How many picas of grief are enough?

I was browsing The New York Times Web site this morning and saw some photos from a 9/11 memorial that happened in the city. The photo was featured prominently in the middle of the Web site, on the main screen.

I glanced over it and kept moving. Didn't stop to read the story, look at the pictures or, I'm ashamed to admit, say a prayer for those who lost their lives in the event. I just moved on to the next story.

Later in the day, I revisited the site, expecting again, to glance over the photos of flowers, grieving family members and flags. Instead, I saw a photo of Sen. John McCain speaking to the the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

I did a double take. For a spit second, I was offended. Here we were at ground zero and I'm hearing about John McCain instead of these attacks which took so many lives. But then I realized that really, I didn't need the memorial story. I knew what it was going to say before I read it. That's why I passed it by.

But I guess I still just wanted to know it was there. Despite my lack of interest in it.

Today, in the City Room, The Times is publishing first person accounts from reporters who covered the 9/11 attacks. One post, from Style reporter Joyce Wadler, particularly struck me.

"I’m not too crazy about this idea. 9/11 stories. Does anybody really need any more? Aren’t the pictures enough?" she writes. "The thing about these 9/11 stories, they seem to me to have become war stories, entertainments, the thing you trot out at a dinner party. "

Save the people directly impacted by the attacks, most people have, at most, respect for the event, and at the least, a sort of weariness that comes with having a single day rehashed in excruciating detail.

So on to the journalism: How do we as reporters advance this story? We write about Iraq every day. Osama just released a new tape so he's in the news. We cover the memorials, the flags and the ceremonies.

Do we give people more or do we report on the burnout that some people are experiencing surrounding the commemoration (a friend of mine wrote a Facebook note today telling people to 'it's okay to get over 9/11,' and he wasn't met with open arms)?

What else can we do? Or should we do anything?

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Posted by T Dot at 4:20 PM | link

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