The Shop Talk panelists look back at the events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners in the U.S. Two of the jets took down the World Trade Center towers in New York City. One plane was flown into the Pentagon. Passengers on the fourth flight fought the hijackers and that plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania.
Panelist Will Buss said he worked at a paper in the St. Louis metro area at the time. He was supposed to cover a night meeting so he was scheduled to come in late that day. Instead he got called in to help with his newspaper’s coverage. He said 18 reporters worked in the newsroom back then (less than half that number now) and each was assigned to cover a different local angle. The paper also issued a special afternoon edition.
Buss feels the events of that day changed the way news is reported and helped lead to the 24 hour news cycle
Panelist Jasmine Crighton said she was a college sophomore at the time and said her schedule permitted her to sleep in that day. Instead her roommate woke up Crighton and they watched the events unfold on TV. She said classes were canceled; teachers told them to go home and watch the news.
Crighton said news crawls were used infrequently on television before 9-11. Afterward they became commonplace.
Panelist Rich Egger said 9-11 started as a regular day but quickly changed. He said it was eerily quiet on the streets in downtown Macomb as the attacks unfolded. NPR’s around-the-clock coverage last for days.
All three panelists said with the widespread availability of the internet and use of social media today, many Americans would learn about such attacks much differently than they did just 17 years ago.
Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.