A “defining moment” for news consumption

By Christina Trejo and Bianca Rainwater

The tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, changed many aspects of American life, and not surprisingly, the news was one of them.

The attacks left Americans with a constant desire for the latest news. Ten years later, that’s still the case. According to an American University School of Communication survey, 67 percent of young Americans — those between 18 and 29- years-old — are more likely to follow the news as a result of 9/11.

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“They follow the news because they remember,” said Janet Dudley, who was a communications contributor working with Comcast, which sponsored the exhibit at the Newseum’s 9/11 Gallery in Washington, D.C. “They remember watching the coverage and seeing the planes and because of that, the news has become intertwined with the attack and really imprinted itself into the minds of the 9/11 generation.”

A substantial shift in news coverage has occurred since 9/11. A report by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism shows that coverage of terrorism rose 135 percent since the attacks, while the number of minutes devoted to foreign policy grew by more than 100 percent.

‘Perspective, not panic’

Cathy Trost, Newseum director of exhibit development, said citizens had a lot of distrust of the press previous to the attacks.

“The coverage of 9/11 was so important and good that there was an increased respect for the press after a pretty low that preceded it,” she said. “The news provided perspective not panic after 9/11. It was a huge defining moment of the 18-29 year generation, one of those shocking stories that you will always remember.”