"Infotainment not information"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Unforeseen news stories are quite unanimously some of the most difficult stories on which to report. Even if a reporter follows a checklist similar to the one laid out in Inside Reporting for covering disasters, there is still so much uncertainty (coupled with so many variables) that make it one of the most difficult tasks a reporter may ever have to endure. The horror of 9/11 was not an exception. On the anniversary of that tragic day, we are once again bombarded with the heartfelt remembrances from victims' loved ones, photos of the devastation and forced to relive the nightmare that was that fateful day. And every piece of this media has been mindfully and meticulously chosen for circulation.

The substance and quantity of what was selected to be publicized, particularly immediately following 9/11, is what incited one writer to begin examining the journalistic choices after that tragedy. Andria Dunkin, a reporter for The Newark Metro, explains some of her findings in her Review Essay: Journalism After 9/11. She states in the article that journalism helped create a strong sense of community after 9/11, but also took advantage of the nation's need for healing after the events of that day.

Infotainment is what was being provided to the American people not information, according to Dunkin. She raises a very valid point, by in a way asking the question, where was the in-depth reporting? The events of that September day caused some of the greatest pain and suffering this country has ever experienced, but it was caused by terrorists attacking our country, and that should have been more closely examined in the reporting.

After reading this article, I feel as if the media was slightly pandering in their coverage of 9/11, and continued to re-play the same heart-breaking stories over and over to keep the public watching. There was a very serious threat looming over America with Al-Qaeda. However, there was not enough information being released about them, which kept people living in an even greater state of constant fear. If it is the media's job to report the stories, then they must report it all. Constant airing or multiple articles on the same topic do not resonate with most as responsible and ethical reporting. The ultimate goal of journalism should be reporting truth, the whole truth no matter how uncomfortable it may be. If it is not the end goal, then what can be learned when we look back on history and events as unfortunate and unspeakable as those of September 11th?


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