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The Grand Rapids Press and the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

August 30, 2011

Yesterday, the Grand Rapids Press began its coverage for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 in the US. The article, headlined “America is mostly back to normal after 9/11 attacks, but should it be?,” was a perfect example of unexamined news.

The article begins by painting a picture of the collective mourning that took place in West Michigan in the first days after 9/11, but soon after that the reporter makes the claim that the US is back to “normal.”

The idea of the US returning to normal is never really explored in the article or substantiated by the Press. The reporter does cite a GVSU professor, Rob Franciosi, who claims that people in the US have remained unchanged despite of 9/11. However, the GVSU professor offers up nothing more than opinion. He doesn’t cite polls or research, which would verify his claims, just his opinion.

Besides the university professor, the Press reporter cites a former Hope football player who reflected on the meaning of 9/11 and a Hudsonville pastor. The Hudsonville pastor has been to the Middle East since 9/11 and does say that people here could have had an awakening after 9/11 but instead are caught up in “the rat race and material possessions.”

The only other source cited in the story was Jim Kristan, an Army veteran who is heading up a local 9/11 memorial service. The Press reporter presents Kristan as in “the minority” since he cares about what happened ten years ago. Kristan says what happened on 9/11 is all he thinks about, so much so that he painted his truck to reflect his feelings.

What is disturbing about the article was not so much the attention they gave to the man organizing the 9/11 memorial service, since that is to be expected. What seems problematic is both the unquestioning nature of the article and the lack of critical voices.

There have been plenty of people in West Michigan who have devoted a great deal of time and energy to fighting the US government responses since 9/11. People have organized and resisted the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. People have exposed and protested the US use of torture after 9/11. People have been part of all kinds of educational efforts to present information to counter the massive propaganda campaign by the US government.

People have examined US foreign policy and have attempted to challenge US hegemony in the Middle East. Local people have even been the subject of government surveillance and repression since 9/11 – Arab Americans, Muslims and dissidents. However, none of these voices are presented in the Press article, which presents the public as mere sheep.

If this story is an indication of the superficial reporting we will get surrounding the 10th anniversary of 9/11 then it is important for people to seek out other sources that will provide some substantive information on a broad range of critical issues.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. bruce permalink
    September 1, 2011 11:37 am

    It’s a series, maybe more will follow. So far there’s been one on profiling of Muslims.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if they do one on the peace folks too…

    But really I wouldn’t expect anything other than the usual crap from the GR DePress! Sueprficial reporting is how they roll.


  1. Ten Years after 9/11 « Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

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