NY, DC Stations Take Stock 10 Years After

To commemorate the anniversary of the attacks, TV stations and cable news channels in New York and Washington are planning a host of special programs ranging from recollections to analysis of all that’s changed since 2001. The broadcast networks’ news departments also have a full plate of coverage planned. This is the second in a TVNewsCheck series this week on how broadcasters responded to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

As local broadcasters in New York and Washington plan their coverage marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11, you have to wonder whether any news department can really touch the breadth and depth of the subject.

But they will be trying.

They have been producing specials and prepping for what is sure to be a highly emotional occasion for months. In fact, some have gotten an early jump with 9/11 lead-up news segments .

And all the stations contacted by TVNewsCheck plan to go well beyond just covering the official anniversary ceremonies, the most will important of which will take place on that Sunday between 8:40 a.m. and noon at the new 9/11 Memorial in New York. President Obama and former President George W. Bush are expected.

“We want to reflect the momentous nature of this date in our lives,” said David Friend, SVP, news, CBS Television Stations, and news director of WCBS New York.

“So we are going … to tell the stories of people and families who were involved then and reflect on that now,” he says. “We hope to make it one of those great local television events that will resonate for years to come.”


“We have reporters who were at Ground Zero during the attacks and their experience and knowledge 10 years later will be fully reflected in our coverage,” he says. “We will make it as meaningful and poignant as we can.”

Friend did not want to reveal details of his plans. But he did say that the station will have special coverage both within and outside its newscasts during the week leading up to Sept. 11.

And on that day, its coverage will begin with at 6 a.m. and lead into network coverage of the ceremonies, which will include reports from CBS O&O’s KYW in Philadelphia and KDKA in Pittsburgh.

WNBC New York started airing monthly 9/11-related stories in its regular newscasts on the 11th of each month starting in February, said News Director Susan Sullivan.

It will air specials on its New York Nonstop multicast channel, and possibly a special on the main channel during the lead-up, Sullivan said. As the anniversary approaches, WNBC will also begin airing newscasts from Ground Zero with reporters at firehouses and other places, like towns in New Jersey, impacted directly by the attacks.

“These stories are emotional, and look at how people have changed over 10 years,” Sullivan said. “They address everything from people, to the rebuild, to the economy — just every angle you can think of. We are trying to cover it all and then lay it out in a way that makes sense and makes it compelling.”

WNYW, the Fox O&O in New York, will run a series of 9/11-related stories on all of its newscasts starting  next week, according to a Fox spokeswoman. On Friday, Sept. 9, a half-hour special, Remembering 9/11: Ten Years Later, will air as well.

For two weeks starting Aug. 29, Fox’s WWOR, which is licensed to Secaucas, N.J., will air stories on how 9/11 affected New Jersey during its 10 p.m. newscast. The night before the anniversary, the station will air a half-hour special, 9/11 10 Years Later Reflecting, Remembering, Rebuilding, also focusing on New Jersey.

But the New York TV channel with the most 9/11 coverage may not be a broadcaster. Starting Sept. 5 on NY1, the Time Warner Cable news channel in New York, all stories other than daily news will be related to 9/11, said Steve Paulus, Time Warner Cable’s SVP, news and local programming.

Among the topics to be addressed: World Trade Center tributes, post 9/11-security and rebuilding downtown Manhattan. Usual features, like lifestyle segments, won’t be shown at all unless there is a tie-in, Paulus said.

Inside City Hall, the channel’s one-hour, 7 p.m. political show, will focus on 9/11-related issues, as will New York Tonight, the 8 p.m. show that was created following the attacks.

The channel will air anniversary ceremonies live in their entirety from Ground Zero and will include reports from Washington and Pennsylvania as well.

In Washington, WRC, the NBC O&O, will anchor its early Sunday morning show from the Pentagon and will preempt its regular noon programming for the 9/11 coverage, says Camille Edwards, VP of news.

The station already has recorded a joint interview with former Washington Mayor Anthony Williams and his four top public safety deputies — all of whom had those jobs on 9/11 — and will air it incrementally on newscasts in the week leading up to the anniversary.

Fox’s WTTG Washington will focus its pre-anniversary coverage on rescuers, survivors and relatives of victims, as well as military and political experts’ assessment of how life has changed since. Special emphasis will be on recollections of the day collected through the station’s Facebook and Twitter followers.

CBS affiliate WUSA Washington, ABC affiliate WJLA Washington and ABC O&O declined to share their plans.

The local broadcasters’ coverage will complement special coverage of the networks.

“Everyone remembers where they were that day … and 10 years later we are trying to take stock of what happened and what has changed,” says Mark Lukasiewicz, SVP of NBC News specials.

NBC is planning live coverage of the ceremonies, with Brian Williams at Ground Zero, David Gregory at the Pentagon and live reporting from Shanksville, the Pennsylvania town near where one of the hijacked planes went down. Tom Brokaw will have a role in the coverage.

On that Friday, MSNBC will air a three-hour documentary examining how the world has changed. It will be anchor by NBC News Correspondent Richard Engel and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

From 8 to 10 p.m. on the anniversary, CBS News will air 9/11: 10 Years Later, an update of the Robert De Niro-hosted special that first air six months after the attacks.

Starting at 4 p.m. on Sept. 11, PBS will devote its entire scheduled to special 9/11 programming, including a one-hour NewsHour special, America Remembers – 9/11.

That lineup also includes Frontline and Nova episodes focused on 9/11, as well as Great Performances: The New York Philharmonic 10th Anniversary Concert for 9/11.


Read the other stories in this Special Report here.


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