9/11 Anniversary Coming Up: Cue the Tearjerkers, Media Demands


Well, it’s that time again. The 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks is coming up. And we all know what that means: media outlets around the world are gearing up to roll out the tearjerkers and are inundating families of the dead with interview requests.

From the UK Telegraph, for example, a reporter wants to do a feature on “women who lost their partners in the attacks and who were pregnant at the time.” As is common, the letter adds an attempt to be classy: “I appreciate this is a sensitive time, and there are many demands on your time, but if anyone was able to speak to me, I’d be very grateful…”

From this corner, there’s something disturbing about these requests, not only because, the 911 grief and loss story has been done about a million times, but also because these media outlets want to carve out one or another demographic subsection–pregnant women, kids, spouses, etc.–of the dead or grieving. You can understand such stories for the first few years, but 10 years out? Isn’t there something better we can do with our time?

From the UK Guardian: “Our aim is to talk to 10 people each of whose lives have been deeply touched by that terrible day,” the reporter writes. “One of the 10 people we hope to profile is a child of 9/11. By that I mean a boy or a girl who lost a parent in the Twin Towers and who have now grown up into a teenager or young adult. Someone who can express to me what it was like growing up without their parent…”

From the German magazine Brigitte: “They are looking to interview and photograph a couple, where one partner was in the WTC on Sept. 11th and thankfully was able to get out, while the other partner was somewhere else not knowing what happened to her or his loved one until the end of the day.”

From the UK filmmaker Testimony Films: “We want the film to be a sympathetic, poignant and educational tribute for the 10th commemoration and because of the highly sensitive nature of subject matter, any advice, information or help would be greatly appreciated.”

And this from the Guangzhou Daily in China: “I am especially interested in your personal stories in rebuilding your life in the aftermath of September 11. Would you like to share your joy and sorrow, courage and spirit with Chinese readers?”

And El Diario wants to interview “Hispanic families who didn’t receive the remains of their loved ones.” “I know this is a sensitive topic but it could be a really good story if done properly,” the reporter writes.

Here’s question: How is this any different from the vendors hawking 911 t-shirts and postcards at Ground Zero? Just asking. (We would argue the t-shirts and postcards are actually a lot less intrusive.)