Shows Tiptoe, Tread on Ground Zero

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 11, 2002 | Go to article overview

Shows Tiptoe, Tread on Ground Zero


Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The September 11 attacks remain open to interpretation among broadcasters who aspire to offer both solace and news without violating the sensibilities of weary viewers who know the story all too well.

Today, airwaves burgeon with carefully titled "tribute" or "retrospective" programming.

It is a delicate business. Well-intentioned remembrance and even legitimate reporting can come off as unnecessary exploitation - a situation that prompted the Los Angeles-based Entertainment Industries Council to issue "Spotlight on a New Normal," a handbook for 3,000 Hollywood producers and writers that offers pointers on depicting terrorism with sensitivity, among other things.

Meanwhile, New York's ground zero has emerged as ground zero - at least in the news business.

ABC, for example, offers three broadcasts from the attack site today, beginning with a retrospective on "Good Morning America."

"It's a good day for a status check on who were are and where we're going," said executive producer Shelley Ross. "We're also going to feature the forgotten fiancees of September 11 who never had their weddings, and men who became single fathers after they lost wives in the attacks."

Later in the day, Peter Jennings will anchor the evening news "live from ground zero," followed at 9 p.m. by "The Hunt for Osama bin Laden," also broadcast from ground zero and other locations.

"Whether right or wrong, a lot of our focus has been centered on bin Laden since September 11," said Todd Polkes, spokesman for ABC News. "Even as the White House administration has sought to de-emphasize his importance, our reporting reveals that behind the scenes, the effort to capture him and his followers is a top priority."

At NBC, this morning's "Today" emphasizes "how life has changed six months after September 11." Country singer Alan Jackson will perform "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," a tune dedicated to the victims of the attacks. …

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