Looking back on a major anniversary for the country, how well did MSNBC handle it? Coverage was very broad, judging by their long page of links to 9/11 stories, videos and other multimedia.
Coverage of the anniversary dominated the front page during Saturday afternoon and — unsurprisingly — all of Sunday. By Monday, it was reduced to a few items, including just one at the top of the page, which disappeared around 5 p.m. The transience is surprising to me, even taking into account the importance of other news on Monday.
Watching the segment on international reactions, I didn't notice the problems until they became obvious. Later in the clip, it showed Pakistanis protesting with signs insisting the attacks were a jewish conspiracy to provoke the U.S. into attacking Muslims. While anti-semitism is a valid topic for news--journalism means reporting the truth, including the ugly parts--only showing Muslims reacting this way seemed irresponsible. Then when I rewatched the video, it started looking a lot worse. Besides a shot at an American military base in Afghanistan and the Pakistan protests, the coverage focused entirely on Europe.
The accompanying text fixed these problems by featuring a Malaysian woman who lost her son in the attacks, creating a fuller picture of how people outside the U.S. reacted. The story doesn't make up for the video completely, though—how many people will just see the video clip, whether on TV or online, and never read through the story? And why miss the opportunity to tell that broader story via video?
The international video, to me, suggested that however good coverage of the domestic aspects of 9/11 was, there's still a way to go in how Americans understand the attack's global implications. Likewise, I wonder how families of Muslim victims feel about the anniversary. Did they feel included by memorials and media coverage?
This problem underscored a theme across MSNBC's coverage. They covered the event from a wide variety of angles, but the quality and depth was sometimes lacking. There are big exceptions, however. MSNBC's evening anchor, Rachel Maddow, and Richard Engel produced the documentary, Day of Destruction, which aired on MSNBC in the week prior to the anniversary. Maddow and Engel produced an in-depth look at the attacks and especially the aftermath. MSNBC's photoblog had one of its photographers reflect and elaborate some of the images taken on 9/11.