The American media transports material at the speed of ‘now’. The latest scandals, rumors, divorces, political bombshells, and headlines stream their way to our phones, televisions, homepages, and Facebook pages in nearly an instant. In addition, stories can vary from white, to black, to gray areas of truth and reality, often with a goal of grabbing the highest ratings for the greatest benefit of what all media outlets are—capitalist and corporate powerhouses for the most potential profit. However, for nearly over a decade, since the tragic events of 9/11, the media has seemingly taken a rarely known threat and classified it into how we travel, interact in public places, and protect our homes under the worse case scenarios—terrorism. The media has a strange relationship with terrorism and goes on tangents of fanaticism to moments of silence, thus leaving an interesting relationship between a revolutionized threat and the mediums that millions of Americans look to for the latest headlines and breaking news.
For decades, Americans have been obsessed with being in the ‘now’ and has had little if any interest in the ‘then’. The latest arrest, scandal, and death count tend to take the top headlines, leading these stories and news clippings to be the talk of the office or talk of the dinner table. Americans are obsessed with news and headlines, from the start of the day to the moment our eyes slide shut, we skim through pages of US Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, and stalk MSNBC’s homepage—waiting for the latest ‘BREAKING NEWS’ and bold text to tell us it be the arrest of foreign nationals or the killing and taking down of Geronimo, Americans follow the timeline of events that the media has deemed worthy enough for the home or front pages. Whether it is the latest Herman Cain or Kardashian scandal, whatever we see on the homepage engrains itself in our daily conversations and Facebook statuses. The media rules the way we think, talk, and interpret current events, most of which are spun from a specific angle and perspective. We take that perspective, that subjective view, and make it our own—considering it truth and are instantly convinced this headlines is truth and takes priority in our mental checklist of ‘what’s up’ that day.
The events of 9/11 were a different type of breaking news and headlines. When live footage hit our televisions and radio broadcasts were abruptly interrupted, Americans hesitated to jump and swarm the stories. I recall sitting in class, then 6th grade, and sitting there watching TV after our science professor quickly rushed to flip to FOX News and show us youths the monumental moment. Now, in the past, I recall the teacher tuning the channel to PBS or Discovery in order to show us something educational—he would over talk the narrator in order to explain to us what we were seeing and what significance it had to the topic at hand. But this day was different—he was silent throughout the entire process. There was no explanation of why this was happening or who it was that commandeered those commercial aircrafts, essentially because he was as clueless as we were as to whom and why. It was silent, and rather than swarm around the program and giggle about how boring it was, there was silence, tears, and fear on both our minds and our teacher’s. This was the first time us students had ever been exposed to this topic of education and learning. Terrorism was not a paragraph in our textbooks or a Frontline video we had to watch for the next test—it was something foreign, taboo, and frightening. The media was just as lost as we were—silent and quite boggled. The entire day was a mix of emotions, between the towers collapsing, flight 93, and the tragic attack on the Pentagon, the entire nation was in a grand moment of silence and was still mulling over the tragic events which had just taken place. These were no headline zingers or gossip stories—these were tragic events which had changed the way we would learn,...
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