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Media pause to reflect on Sept. 11 anniversary

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NEW YORK (AP) — For all the journalistic firepower gathered to

mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on

Sunday, the small moments captured by cameras resonated most

deeply.

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A 21-year-old boy regretted that his father wasn’t there to help

him learn how to drive a car. Young hands grasped at a name etched

in a memorial as if they could touch the person himself. A young

woman asked a mother no longer there if she is proud of her

family.

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Live coverage of somber ceremonies memorializing the attack victims

dominated television networks on Sunday, the climax of two weeks of

attention paid to the historical marker. Newspapers published

special sections and websites offered their own content – Yahoo

even observing a digital moment of silence.

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The television coverage was centered on the annual memorial service

at New York’s World Trade Center. CNN kept a timeline, occasionally

flashing mileposts of what happened 10 years ago at their precise

moments: as former President George W. Bush read a letter from

Abraham Lincoln to the mother of five men killed in the Civil War,

the screen noted that exactly 10 years ago Bush’s chief of staff

was whispering to his boss that “America is under

attack.”

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“The images still shock, the heartbreak still hurts,” CNN’s

Anderson Cooper said as the network showed pictures from

2001.

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Sunday’s coverage offered dozens of heart-rending moments, perhaps

none more so than when Peter Negron, 21, recalled his father Pete,

a project manager for environmental issues for the Port Authority

of New York and New Jersey, who died at the World Trade Center. He

noted that he tried to teach his brother, aged 2 when their father

died, things like throwing a baseball that dad had showed him. He

regretted that his father wasn’t there to teach him how to drive,

or ask a girl out on a date.

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Tom Brokaw, who anchored NBC News’ coverage 10 years ago and worked

as a commentator with Brian Williams on Sunday, briefly struggled

for composure after watching a red-eyed Paul Simon sing “The Sounds

of Silence.”

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“Music is such a critical part of these kinds of ceremonies,” he

said. “It evokes memories, speaks to us in a way that our everyday

language cannot.”

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Most of the networks covered the beginning of the reading of names

of World Trade Center victims by family members, but cut away for

other things, including ceremonies where planes hit that day at the

Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.

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That made for some discordant moments, such as when ABC’s George

Stephanopoulos asked Robin Roberts to describe what the screen

already had shown.

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“Can you just give us a sense of what it is like where the names

are being read?” Stephanopoulos asked.

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“I’m trying to keep my voice down,” Roberts replied. “Everyone is

being very respectful in listening to the names being

read.”

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Fox introduced a reporter by injecting an odd sense of competition,

saying he had been the first to report that the towers had fallen

down – a picture seen live by millions 10 years ago.

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Perhaps most powerfully, CBS News stuck with the list of names

longer than its rivals, each reader ending with an often

heartbreaking personal tribute. Still, the network ended its

three-hour coverage without even reaching the halfway point through

the alphabetical list.

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“It takes a very long time to read 3,000 names,” CBS’ Scott Pelley

said. “It’s a reminder of the enormity of what

happened.”

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New York affiliates of the broadcast networks, as has been their

tradition, stuck with the readings after network coverage went off

the air. Fox and CNN ran lists of victims’ names on the bottom of

their screens throughout the morning.

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The ceremonies gave way to the opening weekend of NFL football,

where the anniversary was marked in stadiums across the country.

“Taps” was played from Shanksville and Arlington National Cemetery

and shown on videoboards in different stadiums.

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The New York Mets held a pregame ceremony honoring first responders

before Sunday night’s home game. A giant flag was unfurled,

covering most of the outfield at Citifield, and the stadium lights

dimmed for a moment of silence.

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The Associated Press provided live video from the memorial service.

It also produced a running moment to moment timeline, contrasting

what was happening Sunday to what was happening in those moments 10

years earlier.

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The New York Times published a 40-page special section, “The

Reckoning,” on Sunday, with a cover picture of the reflecting pool

at ground zero. An interactive package with the same name includes

a graphic tally of the cost of 9/11 to the United States, an

estimated $3.3 trillion. The Times is also collecting comments

about where people were on that day and how they feel

now.

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A web package put together by The Wall Street Journal contained

graphics showing how lower Manhattan around ground zero has become

a more residential community. Cameras from different vantage points

give online visitors views of rebuilding at the World Trade

Center.

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Yahoo halted service on its website for a minute at 8:46 a.m. ET,

10 years after the first plane hit the North Tower, a digital

moment of silence. Facebook added ways for users to dedicate

profile photos and status updates to 9/11 victims. Google’s home

site had a black ribbon and the phrase “Remembering September

11th.”

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YouTube started a specific 9/11 channel, asking viewers to submit

videos with their thoughts.

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Advertisers in special newspaper sections tailored their messages

to the occasion. The New York Daily News’ 80-page special section

contained memorial ads from Macy’s, the utility Con Edison, Emblem

Health, Key Food, the New York Jets and the Eye Bank of New York.

Some tried to do business: The Bradford Exchange offered

commemorative plaques, pendants and sculptures for sale.

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Ryan Nakashima in Los Angeles contributed to this

report.

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