February 26, 1993, the day that terrorists made the biggest attack on American soil to that point. It was early afternoon on a Friday, 12:18 pm to be exact, a car bomb ripped through the guts of the now infamous North World Trade Center twin tower. It happened very quickly, and without warning, normal people were simply going about their daily business, when all of a sudden, the building shook, the power went out, and smoke began to fill all 110 floors of the towers. Many wondered what had happened, had a plane struck the building, was it an earthquake? D, none of the above, some crazed maniac had decided to kill 5 people and injure many more just to get some point across.
This event graced the front page of newspapers and news magazines across the country, the New York Times was the newspaper closest to the action.
Covrage in this newspaper was published one day after the event, and coverednot only the event but the ensuing traffic chaos it caused. Being a newspaper local to New York City, the site of the attack, the newpaper catered to the interests of its local readers. The New York Times, however, is also circulated around the country, and around the world. This required the newpaper editors, publishers, and writers to remain sensitive to the feelings and thoughts of readers in the broader reading audience.
Newsweek Magazine also published coverage of the attack. Their primary audience is a national one, and consequently, the coverage is geared toward a broader audience.
Also, seeing as the magazine is only published once a week, rather than daily as the New York Times, Newsweek had more time to gather facts and evidence. This added time for research leads more to a fact based coverage than a question based coverage.
One interesting observation is that it seems both sources immediately assume that foreign terrorists were the primary perpetrators of this attack. Neither article comes right out and says it, however both are rather ambiguous about it. Newsweek does mention the possibility of a domestic source for the violence, but spends much more time and effort explaining the possible foreign sources. Overall both articles seem rather straightforward in their representation of the event, and remain rather simplistic, so as not to confuse the reading audience.
When an event of this magnitude occurs, emotions are bound to play a role in the coverage. In assessment of articles from both sources, Newsweek plays on emotions more readily than the New York Times. One theory of why this source may try to arouse emotion is a political agenda. When a persons emotions are aroused, the difficulty of swaying their opinions is nearly wiped out. When you sway someones opinion to your own, you have achieved every news organizations ultimate goal in life, having a steady base of followers.
Although many differences exist between the two sources, some similarities are also apparent.
These similarities exist in three areas, mediated violence, media responsibility, and feelings that the media induce. Both sources represented the violence in a manner that was neither understated or overstated the magnitude of the attack, and merely reported on what had happened. This also shows us that both sources maintained their responsibility to report the facts, and not create slander. As much as a news source tries or doesnt try, its reports will create an overall feeling of some sort in the readers. In this case, both sources end up creating an overall feeling of anxiety, the biggest anxiety is one of how safe we really are on our home turf, at the office, or generally anywhere in our extensive travels.
In conclusion, in assessment of two sources, one national magazine and one local magazine with a modest national following, we discovered similarities and differences between the two.
The major similarities were in three areas, mediated violence, media responsibility, and feeling induced by the media. Differences arose in how the sources covered the story specific to their audience and publication period. SO when terrorists attack, keep these things in mind, and be careful what you read.
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