News Directors On: Sept. 11

NEWSROOMS: The 10th anniversary of 9/11--a date that’s now synonymous with the worst terrorist attack to ever take place on American soil--is Sunday News directors in key markets were asked how they planned to cover this historic and somber day.

“We view the tenth anniversary of 9/11 as really a momentous event in the lives of our viewers in the Tri-State area. We will be deploying our reporters who lived through that day. They will be sharing their recollections and reporting on the events of that day. In the week leading up to 9/11, we will be bringing you the stories of families, survivors, and New Yorkers whose memories of 9/11 are just seared into their heads. This is one of those events that we view as something our viewers will be riveted by and that we will put all our efforts into. We started planning for this six months ago.” ~ David Friend, news director, CBS O&O WCBS-TV in New York

“To commemorate the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, WTTG is launching a ‘We Were There’ campaign. As part of these efforts, we are encouraging viewers to send us their personal memories from that day, in the form of photos, videos, journals, and so on. We will honor our viewers’ lives that were forever changed by this tragedy by broadcasting a compilation of memories that are submitted.
“In addition to this campaign, that day our reporters will be live from the Pentagon, Ground Zero and Shanksville, Penn., with reports and interviews with survivors, security experts, psychologists, public officials and family members of the fallen, as they remember and honor those lives lost.” ~ Duffy Dyer, vice president and general manager of Fox O&O WTTG-TV Washington, D.C.

“I just started as news director here in April, but I understand that 9/11 is very important to people here because we are so close to the crash site. (At right, image by Richard Snodgrass of the National Park Service.) Anything that goes on there we cover. Our viewers seem to respond and if we weren’t there we would hear about it.
“We’re still waiting to hear what the White House plans are, but generally we’re planning two and a half hours of coverage on Saturday, Sept. 10, because they are inaugurating the Flight 93 Memorial and we are expecting those ceremonies to go two hours.
“On Sunday, Sept., 11, we also will be taking the morning ceremonies in New York live with wall-to-wall coverage. We are expecting that ceremony, in which President Obama and the First Lady are expected to participate, to last two hours.
“In the week leading up to 9/11, we will be looking at a lot of retrospectives. A year after 9/11, WJAC produced an hour talking to reporters and anchors who covered the crash of Flight 93. We’re thinking of refreshing that update and rebroadcasting it.
“We’ll also revisit some of the people who were first on the scene that day and see what the past ten years have been like for them.
“Lately, our 9/11-related coverage hasn’t stopped. Every few weeks we are given access to see how progress is going on the Flight 93 Memorial. We are constantly covering things here.” ~ Jim Platzer, news director for Cox’s NBC affiliate WJAC-TV in Johnston, Penn.

“For us, because we had people in the community who lived and worked in New York, we feel that Philadelphia is in the shadow of ground zero. And also because Philadelphia is the birthplace of democracy, there’s a feeling that Philadelphia represents America.
“Security on airlines and transit are very big issues here. Because of 9/11, there’s a deep awareness of terrorism. It’s something that’s deeply impacted people who live in this area.
“We are doing a special in access on Friday night to kick off coverage, and then we will be sending anchor Chris May and reporter Walt Hunter to New York for live coverage on Sunday. We’ll also be sending our weekend anchor Natasha brown to Shanksville for the ceremonies on Saturday.
“We’re also teaming up with talk radio station WPHT, to send busloads of people out to Shanksville for the Saturday memorial service. We’ll be covering that, reporting on that and also Facebooking and tweeting about it.
“I think it will be an emotional weekend in our market, and an emotional weekend in our news room. Susan Schiller, vice president of news for CBS O&O KYW-TV in Philadelphia.

“We’ve done an awful lot of thinking about this. On 9/11, terrorism hit home everywhere and California certainly was no exception to that. There was a groundswell of patriotism that poured out from all corners of the country and there were some very significant things that happened that connected Southern California to the cities that were attacked. Three of the four planes were en route to Los Angeles, and the fourth was headed to San Francisco.
“One of the things we’re doing that is really unique is that when 9/11 happened one of our main anchors, a producer and two photographers set out for New York. They started driving with the intention of getting a plane from the first available airport. Of course, no airports were open for days, so they ended up driving across the entire country and talking to people who had been touched by 9/11.
“We are going to revisit that concept and may revisit some the locations that they hit on their way.
“Every year we do 9/11 stories, but I think we are going to save the big swings for the week before and the day of.” ~ Vickie Burns, news director of NBC O&O KNBC-TV in Los Angeles.

~ compiled by Paige Albiniak