Media

Full Coverage

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PAULINE UNG

Age 30

Resides Manhattan

Occupation Attorney

What do you think of the media’s coverage of the crisis? I think
it’s all information overload, but it’s also the same small bit of news
being rebroadcast over and over again. I also believe that anthrax has
been around a lot longer than they’re admitting, and only because of the
terrorist attacks are they coming forward with the cases. Basically,
we’re getting so little information because they’re afraid of an
uneducated public going crazy. During Y2K, people thought it was the end
of the world and went out to the desert to build bunkers.

How much time do you spend keeping up with the news? I don’t have
cable, and so I only have channel 2. I watch it, but it’s usually only
on as background. I read the Times on the Web. It’s cheaper and
you don’t get your fingers dirty.

What are you doing to escape? I go to the gym and work out. I
spend time with friends and go to the movies. I saw Serendipity,
a cute romantic comedy where you’re rooting for the couple to get
together and on the edge of your seat when it looks like there’s a
chance they won’t.


KENNETH LESLIE

Age 45

Resides Bronx

Occupation Theater operations

What do you think of the media’s coverage of the crisis? The
media is serving its own needs simply because this is a huge media
event. I think we’re getting a small amount of the information, some on
anthrax and almost none on Afghanistan. I continue to think the anthrax
is being sent by some white supremacist in Idaho, and that the West Nile
spraying was some kind of bioterrorism test to see how resistant we are
to chemicals. All news is propaganda. As they say, the first casualty of
war is truth.

How much time do you spend keeping up with the news? I’m a news
junkie. I try to get away from it but as soon as I start channel
surfing, I always manage to make my way back to CNN. As though something
important had happened in the three minutes I was watching something
else.

What are you doing to escape? I’ve been to the movies to see
Training Day. It was a very dark movie. In general, I’m living, going
out to dinner with my wife, trying to be more conscious of nature, as
corny as that might sound. I mean, I’m conscious of what’s going on, but
I don’t think there’s a jihad under my bed. I try not to scare my wife.
She’s from the Ukraine, and just got the Communists off her back.


SHALIMAR CELESTE

Age 21

Resides Brooklyn

Occupation Photographer

What do you think of the media’s coverage of the crisis? I don’t
have the slightest idea why we’re not getting all the information, but I
know we’re probably not. Maybe they think telling us all they know would
drive people crazy. Most Americans want to go shopping and drink coffee
and sit on their sofas and watch Friends. They’d rather live in a state
of total denial than know about this shit.

How much time do you spend keeping up with the news? I don’t
watch TV because I don’t have one. The disadvantage is that someone
calls me up and tells me about “the bomb found in the bus station in
Philly,” and I say, “Oh my God,” because I haven’t heard anything about
it. I miss even the little bits of news that they agree to put on
television. The message from the president is to shop, to go out and
spend money and buy more things from Banana Republic that we don’t need.

What are you doing to escape? Nothing. I’m really just continuing
my life, a little pissed off and depressed.


BILL LANGE

Age over 21

Resides Manhattan

Occupation Administrator

What do you think of the media’s coverage of the crisis? I think
we’re getting enough news, at least within the parameters of what the
government is letting the press report. I’m getting better at spotting
the omissions. The anthrax crisis has really made it apparent that
information is being left out.

How much time do you spend keeping up with the news? Probably too
much. There’s so much information and it’s going by so fast. You have
the anchors saying one thing and the tape running below them is passing
on other information.

What are you doing to escape? Not much. It’s pretty hard to
escape. There’s an information overload because it’s coming in through
television, newspapers, and the Internet. In terms of relaxation, I
haven’t been to the movies yet, and although I’ve been trying to read
fiction, I can’t get through it. I can’t bear to pick up any of these
books on bioterrorism or Osama bin Laden. Maybe I should start Harry
Potter.


ANTHONY KILBURN

Age 40

Resides Manhattan

Occupation Clerk

What do you think of the media’s coverage of the crisis? I
actually think I’m getting too much information. I know we’re not
getting all the facts, but I’ve been watching television and reading
about anthrax, and I can see why they’re withholding information. I’m
sure it’s worse than they think it is, and that’s particularly scary
because I know they have no battle plan.

How much time do you spend keeping up with the news? If I’m in
the house, I watch about a half-hour of news. I mostly read magazines
like Time. I try to stay away from ones like People.

What are you doing to escape? I’m originally from Chicago. I’ve
only lived in New York since the beginning of the year. I still feel
like a tourist here. My idea of relaxation is walking around and looking
at things. Just being in the city interests me. I’ve noticed a change in
people since the attack on the World Trade Center. They’re careful and
kind, although lately I’ve seen some of the old New York coming back.
Slowly but surely.


TYONDAI BRAXTON

Age 23

Resides Brooklyn

Occupation Musician

What do you think of the media’s coverage of the crisis? You want
to get as much information as possible, but with this anthrax thing, I
think the media’s been good at after-the-fact reporting, but not good at
reporting done in anticipation of an event. In terms of Afghanistan, I
also don’t think we’re getting the whole story. There was so much
pressure to just do something that everyone’s just lined up behind the
military campaign and the idea that Osama bin Laden was entirely
responsible for the attacks. I don’t like the fact that professors and
journalists have been fired for expressing doubt about our “shoot first,
ask questions later” policies. This flies in the face of the First
Amendment.

How much time do you spend keeping up with the news? At first I
was glued to the television. Because of the collapse of the trade center
antenna, I only have channel 25, and I watch their foreign news and try
to adopt a cosmopolitan outlook. I’ve been reading the paper, but I’m
also trying to return to some of my normal activities.

What are you doing to escape? In the days after the attack on the
trade towers, I tried practicing my guitar, but it just seemed so
useless. I want to do things like go to the movies, but I can’t yet.
Lately, I have found that I’ve been working on my music more, as though
the only thing to do under these terrible and provocative circumstances
is be productive.


MELISSA ROBENAULT

Age 22

Resides Staten Island

Occupation Student

What do you think of the media’s coverage of the crisis? I watch
the news, and for now I think they’re not hiding anything. Having said
that, I do have a natural suspicion of the government and the media and
don’t always believe what I’m told. For instance, although I personally
feel pretty safe, I’m also sure that the terrorists are already here.

How much time do you spend keeping up with the news? I was
addicted to the news in the weeks following September 11. Now I watch a
little CNN every day just to catch up with the day’s events. I don’t
want to sit in the house and be afraid.

What are you doing to escape? I go to work, see my friends. I
don’t go to the movies to relax because I’m not a movie person, and I
can’t shop as a distraction because I don’t have any money. Essentially,
I listen to music. CDs are always playing. I’ve been trying to just get
back to my life, although when I take the ferry from Staten Island, I
see people having their pictures taken with the trade tower site as the
backdrop and I want to yell at them, “Stop it! That’s a graveyard! There
are people in there!”


ALFREDO OTERO

Age 42

Resides Bronx

Occupation Truck driver

What do you think of the media’s coverage of the crisis? I think
it’s being covered pretty well, but I’m not getting enough information
on anthrax prevention. They should tell parents not to let kids open the
mail. I myself have started to be very careful about opening the mail. I
think there’s concern about scaring the public, and too much information
might incite people to panic and riot or to attack Arab Americans.

How much time do you spend keeping up with the news? I read the
Daily News, and I listen to the radio, 106.7 and 94.7, which is
my Christian station. I’m born-again. They are saying that these are the
final days. There is a lot of information in the Bible about what’s
going on now.

What are you doing to escape? Prayer and physical training are
good for the body and the soul. I also do a lot of meditation. I’ve been
listening to jazz and to oldies radio, which I find relaxing. I haven’t
been to the movies since the 11th. I don’t want to sit in total darkness
with people I don’t know. Who knows how good the security is there?
Basically, I’m trying to live my life, to be skeptical but not scared. I
have to think that when my number comes up, it comes up. Though I will
say that if they come after me with a box cutter or say they have a
bomb, I’m going to die trying to stop them from doing whatever it is
they are trying to do.

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