As events in America on 11 September unfolded the world witnessed
in real time a tragedy of historical proportions. Someone had grabbed
the remote in our lives and changed channels. We were awestruck,
in tears and disbelief - firmly placed and captivated in the media.
Television, radio, telephones, newspapers and the Internet involved
everyone in this tragic and evolving nightmare.
Live on television as the WTC South Tower collapsed the scale
of events on the other side of the Atlantic became clear. Speculation
on the potential human cost of the attack had started. Reaction
to the images being witnessed seemed to have an early theme; as
a society of media consumers we are all too familiar with blockbusters
such as Independence Day, Outbreak, Deep Impact
and Pearl Harbour - the response from many was to say this
was "like a movie". Perhaps denial, utter confusion or incomprehension,
but as the media fed people more information reality started sinking
in. Hours later it was clear the world had changed. Global society
at an unprecedented speed had reacted to these acts of terror, if
any evidence is required of the impact of technology on society
and vice versa - this is it.
Television, the Internet and radio gave 24x7 coverage of the "ATTACK
on AMERICA" (Sky News) and "TERROR IN AMERICA" (BBC News), many
had coverage from US news channels like Boston's local channel.
The nature of this coverage ranged over time from a "confused" relay
of images and reports, in depth analysis on the human cost, monitoring
the U.S. re-action, "why" and mourning, to a current focus on "who"
and "what next". Newspapers have had an important but somewhat lagging
role in this digital saga; popular web portals slowed down, some
lost service completely, highlighting the shift across mediums.
There have been a large proportion of British casualties from
the WTC, so there is a "physical" bond between nations. Though perhaps
more profound is the media's role in removing all time and geographic
boundaries between these distant lands. Dying moment calls to the
London Stock Exchange from the WTC, e-mails from friends and families,
heartbreaking stories from victims televised, images of heroic volunteers
clearing the devastation. All these it could be suggested are examples
of media bonding, in real time, people and nations throughout the
Prime Minister Blair addressed our nation and a global audience
shortly after the events had taken place, his voice filled with
sorrow, shock and disgust. We witnessed raw emotion from President
Bush soon after. These two figures had moved from representing "Nation
State" to the "state of nations". Fuelled by engaging, explicit,
voyeuristic and harrowing media the attention is now turned to waging
war on terrorism.
"We are at war with terrorism - What happened on Tuesday was an
attack not just upon the United States but upon the civilised world."
"We, therefore, here in Britain stand shoulder to shoulder with
our American friends in this hour of tragedy, and we, like them,
will not rest until this evil is driven from our world." - Prime
Minister, Tony Blair
What unfolds now is unclear. However what is clear is that nations,
societies, politics, humanity and media are interacting more intensely
than at any other point in history. Which one of these has the strongest
influence, and how can we use it to deliver a stable, peaceful,
and safe world?
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