More Messages: The Extended Anniversary

Covering -- or should I say overcovering -- anniversaries of big events is the journalistic equivalent of a no-brainer. It's much simpler for reporters and editors to figuratively -- and often literally -- return to the scene of past crimes than to tax their minds finding fresh material.

Granted, some events are so big and meaningful that they deserve revisiting. But news organizations that truly wish to serve media consumers need to come up with angles that provide perspective and new ways of looking at familiar events rather than pushing the same old emotional buttons and otherwise embracing the lowest common denominator.

Unfortunately, the Rocky Mountain News appears to be taking the latter course when it comes to the fifth anniversary of 9/11. The tab began looking back on September 6, a full five days before the date in question, with a front-page weeper focused on Craig Woodall, whose brother died in the attack on the World Trade Center. Inside, the Woodall piece appeared in a section larded with profiles of other victims of loss -- and this same approach was taken in the September 7 issue. Not every piece published in today's paper was mopey: An article about the sisters of the late Kathleen Faragher struck a comparatively optimistic tone. Still, the overall effect was more of the same, and the Rocky doesn't seem interested in mixing things up. Here's the roster for upcoming portions of the series, which will eat up big portions of the paper's next three editions:

"Friday: Dr. H.G. Whittington's daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren died on American Airlines Flight 77. As a psychiatrist, he knows about pain, including his own.

Saturday: Gina Hawryluk lost fiance Joshua Rosenblum just four days before their wedding. She has a new life in Taos, N.M., but still feels his spirit.

Monday: For Adam White's family, there is no closure - or forgetting a young man who lived every day in the moment."

Perhaps some of these efforts will transcend the tired formula the Rocky has deployed to date. However, that doesn't excuse the paper's lazy approach to this topic. Yes, it's sad that these people lost loved ones, and they deserve our sympathy. Now tell us something we don't already know. -- Michael Roberts

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts