Seven years after the terrible events of September 11, 2001, there's not a lot fresh to report or write on the topic, especially for journalists in cities like Denver. And yet memories of the incidents are still too prevalent for regional print and broadcast outlets to relegate anniversary coverage to the second or third tier of the day's news. Simply typing the date or receiving an e-mail with it stamped into the time code proves that.
So what are Denver journalists to do? TV types have it easier: This morning, area stations have been linking to commemoration ceremonies in New York City and Washington, which provide compelling visuals and context that doesn't require strained localizing. Unfortunately, however, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News don't have this option. So they dished out the sort of de rigueur look-backs they've produced repeatedly since even before the first anniversary, to predictably redundant effect.
In "Remembering Sept. 11, 2001," the Post opted for the collage approach, quizzing a variety of people whose lives were impacted by what took place that day -- and in this case, most of those chosen felt the sting indirectly. Example: a teenager who can't remember a world without terrorism. The idea was clearly to create a piece that's more relatable for the average person, who didn't have a loved one die at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon or a field in Pennsylvania. But it doesn't quite work due to the familiarity of the theme. Each of us has stories like the ones the Post tells, so hearing that others do, too, isn't exactly a news flash.
With "Remembering 9/11: Sad But Normal," the Rocky opted for traditionalism, profiling a woman whose husband died at the WTC. But the headline affixed to the narrative is a little too good. It says more in a bare handful of words than does the piece as a whole.
One major coverage difference on this 9/11 anniversary as opposed to many of those that preceded it: We haven't been subjected to days of build-up. Yesterday's papers and newscasts didn't overflow with 9/11 fare, and after tomorrow, we'll go back to reports about current events, not ones that took place at the dawn of the millennium. Don't know if that qualifies as progress, but for many of us -- including, no doubt, many local newspaper and TV reporters -- it's something of a relief. -- Michael Roberts