Using the Web To Prepare For 9-11 Anniversaries

By: Charles Bowen

Daybooks on the desks of city editors and features editors around the country all contain the same notation three weeks from now: that March 11 is the six-month anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Many newspapers will observe that Monday with a package of retrospective stories on our latest day of infamy and events of the months since then. And smart reporters are using the Web right now to help in their writing of those stories.

Several Web sites created in the last six months are particularly useful in documenting the events of 9/11 and their aftermath. It is a case in which the Web — arguably the most fluid, impermanent medium of our lives — is being used as a reference point for history. Some observers even think these sites offer a glimpse into the future of online information compilation and distribution.

Need to review the original television broadcasts of the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States and overseas? The Television Archive is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that provides audio and video files from news agencies around the world on Sept. 11 and the following week. The site, which is still being beta-tested, provides files that can be searched by keyword or browsed by a timeline or program guide and requires QuickTime or RealPlayer and at least a 56k connection.

To use the tools, visit the site at, where an introductory screen provides a link to online video of Sept. 11 from ABC’s “Good Morning America” with Diane Sawyer announcing the explosion at the World Trade Center. Also on the screen are links to related broadcasts from Great Britain, Canada, Japan, Mexico, China, and Russia. Links are provided to a score of printed media analyses of the crisis coverage from sources such as the Poynter Institute, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, and the Institute for Public Accuracy. And perhaps of particular interesting to a researching journalist is a browseable chronology of the events from 8:48 a.m. Sept. 11 through the afternoon of Sept. 17.

Meanwhile, because of the nature of the tragedy, it’s difficult to separate traditional media coverage from the events in cyberspace. And you don’t have to. Another online resource — this one created in conjunction with the Library of Congress — preserves Web expressions of individuals, groups, the press, and institutions from around the world in the aftermath of the attacks. The September 11 Archive, created by a collaborative effort of the Internet Archive and, offers a compilation of hundreds of sites that reported on the terrorist attacks. Since the hours just after the attacks, the site has been collecting Web material that reflects responses to them from as many sources as possible. Visit the site at and search the pages — including memorial sites, tribute pages, and survivor registries — by category or keyword and range from religious and news organizations to governmental sites.

Other resources that can be searched for Sept. 11 retrospectives:

1. Gary Price, a Washington, D.C., librarian and information consultant, has put together a valuable page full of resources related to the attacks, placing them online in the form of a Web log that he continues to develop. Reached at, the site has links to the Government Accounting Office and material on aviation and airport safety, and a large number of discussion papers and related articles.

2. U.S. government information and resources in response to the attacks are compiled on the FirstGov Web site ( It includes a “patient locator” in New York and D.C.-area hospitals, info on benefits and scams, U.S. federal building status, hospital phone numbers, airline phone numbers, the DOD Casualty Update, the place to report cell phone and pager numbers of the missing and links to disaster unemployment insurance.

3. The nonprofit Media Channel ( uses its Web site to examine how the mass media in the U.S. and around the world covered the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in America. This site provides articles and analysis, advice, guides, and resources for journalists and access to diverse worldwide views.

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