- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2002

The first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks will give local television and radio news operations an opportunity to focus on the tragedy at the Pentagon, a story some say the networks largely ignored.
Because the attack in Arlington was part of a coordinated terror campaign that included the destruction of the World Trade Center, some Washingtonians feel their experiences were overshadowed.
The satirical newspaper "The Onion" may have captured this sentiment best: In its first edition after the attacks, it carried the front-page teaser "Massive attack on the Pentagon. Page 14."
Network executives say there were many legitimate reasons to focus on New York. For one thing, the hijacked planes that slammed into the Pentagon killed 189 persons, but thousands died when the twin towers fell.
Even more importantly: Cameras captured footage of the hijacked planes slamming into the towers and television which drives so much news coverage is a visual medium.
Local news operations will spend the next few days exploring all aspects of the September 11 attacks the World Trade Center destruction, the Pentagon assault, the Pennsylvania plane crash but they will zero in on the impact in Washington.
"Look at the Arlington firefighters who responded to the Pentagon. They got such minimal coverage nationally. We're going to try to make amends for that," said Jim Farley, vice president of news and programming at all-news radio station WTOP (820 and 1500 AM and 107.7 FM).
WTOP will go commercial free for 24 hours beginning September 11 at midnight, in part so it can squeeze in as many reports as possible, Mr. Farley said.
Other broadcasters are proceeding with equally ambitious plans.
On Sunday, CBS affiliate WUSA-TV (Channel 9) will pre-empt repeats of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Becker" for a local news special anchored by Gordon Peterson and Gurvir Dhindsa. It will feature an interview between Mr. Peterson and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.
ABC affiliate WJLA-TV (Channel 7) will pre-empt back-to-back repeats of "According to Jim" on Tuesday for its own special, "Stories of Hope: A September 11 Remembrance." Kathleen Matthews anchors the program, which features a profile of Louise Kurtz, a civilian accountant at the Pentagon who suffered severe burns and lost all her fingers and parts of both ears in the attack.
On September 11, all the major affiliates plan to break away from wall-to-wall network programming for local newscasts and specials. On WUSA, Mike Buchanan and Andrea Roane will host an hourlong special at 4 p.m., and Mr. Peterson and Ms. Dhindsa will preside over a half-hour report at 7:30 p.m.
At NBC affiliate WRC-TV (Channel 4), anchor Jim Vance is expected to conduct a series of brief, town hall-style forums that will air throughout the day.
Talk-radio station WMAL-AM (630) plans to broadcast its morning news show from the Pentagon, as well as a special morning edition of "The Chris Core Show."
Public radio station WETA-FM (90.9 FM) will air a one-hour special, "Art from the Aftermath: Reflections on Life Since 9/11," that examines how artists in Washington have responded to the attacks. It airs Tuesday evening.
Washington's other public radio broadcaster, WAMU-FM (88.5), will carry several programs, including a special edition of local newsmagazine "Metro Connection" devoted to September 11. It airs Saturday morning.
Questions? Comments? Tips? Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send an e-mail to [email protected]


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