Sept. 11, 2001 changed the lives of millions of people, but it also changed the way the media did its business. Of course, as most know, the tickers on the bottoms of each cable news network came about as the result of 9/11 — the networks’ attempts to give other news while continuing live coverage of 9/11. I was working at a newspaper in South Carolina that day. At the time, we were an afternoon newspaper (meaning we published at 11:30 a.m.) and our papers hit the streets during lunch and late afternoon. We didn’t even have a TV in the newsroom at the time, so when the news came across the AP wire, we thought it must have been a small plane. But when the next AP News Alert came across that a second plane hit, we knew it had to be terrorism. I was preparing to transition from sports to news, so this happened to be my first major story.
Our publisher brought her RV to the paper so we could watch coverage of the disaster and plan our stories inside the RV. Needless to say, 9/11 got us TVs in the newsroom. Being one of just a few afternoon papers in our state, we hit the street with the news before anyone else. It was like we were all in a daze. Day 1 became Day 2 and Day 2 became Day 3 before we knew it. No one knew when to go home — or if they should EVER go home. It seemed like the story of a lifetime. I was so scared, which is odd because I’ve seen just about everything in the news business. My wife called me to ask what was going on, and I said, in a very rushed and over-reacting way, “I can’t talk, the world is coming to and end!” Needless to say, that freaked her out. But it sure seemed like it at the moment.
We have since become a morning newspaper. It was a crazy day in the newsroom that day, especially because, unlike most other newspapers, we were working on deadline at that time and were producing the first newspaper on the event (at least in our area).