Covering anniversaries of big events offers a challenge for newspapers -– especially as the years start rolling by. We made a big deal of the 20th anniversary of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge collapse in 2000, but toned down our coverage five years later. How much coverage should we devote as time distances us from an event? What seems fair and appropriate? What goes too far?
These questions help us determine the extent of our coverage. We keep a “tickler” in the newsroom to note such dates throughout the year, reminding us to plan ahead for local stories and photographs to publish.
Yet something was missing as the editors discussed how to mark today’s sixth anniversary of one of the worst days in American history.
9-11 wasn’t an “event.” As we revisit those images -- from the Pentagon, from the Twin Towers, from a field in Pennsylvania -- the reality of 9-11-01 should still feel raw and new. But our editors probably feel a lot like many of you – while it’s hard to imagine six years have gone by, the memories of that date are blurring a bit. Not the vivid images we watched on TV screens that day. Those were permanently burned into our minds. But each year, time takes us farther away…
In yesterday’s discussions, an editor brought it home for me – it’s not looking back that matters. It’s using the memories of that awful day to move forward in building on hope, on resilience, on belief in good.
Where were you when you learned that a plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers? I was just leaving home for the Herald newsroom when I got a phone call, telling me to go back in and turn on the TV. I watched the second plane strike, then somehow found myself in the newsroom planning a special edition to publish within a few hours.
That’s what we journalists do -- we throw ourselves into the news, almost as a shield. Somehow, if we’re working it, the news can’t hurt as much. Somehow, if we're bringing the news to you, we can make a difference.
That’s my resolve – to keep working at it. We pause today to formally honor the heroes and victims of 9-11. And we remember all that we need to build.